This Whole Next Big Thing Thing
Hi everyone. Hope your day has been good. I'm going to be back tomorrow to pick up where we left off, heading out of the house, up our street, & once we get to the bar up there we'll talk about all kinds of things. In the meantime, my dear editor noticed I'd answered some questions for this interview project called The Next Big Thing. The great Susan Landers had tagged me, & I wrote a response, but I lacked my own website to publish what I'd written. Harriet suggested that I move (from Facebook) over here. Good idea! I've hyperlinked some of the things I've referred to just to make it more fun in an Internet way. Lots of people have responded to these questions as it's gone viral or whatever & I've enjoyed reading their responses myself. I'm curious about what folks are up to. You could tag yourself if you wanted I think. Anyway, here's what I wrote.
The Next Big Thing
What is the working title of the book?
The Day That Love Began: An Aubade-Novel
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Last summer during a Q & A after a reading I gave Renee Gladman asked me if I'd ever thought about writing a novel, & if the idea interested me at all. I hadn't considered it before but immediately upon being asked the question the idea intrigued me. Having absolutely no idea how to do something is enabling for me, & I have NO clue how one goes about writing a novel, so there's very little interference or calcification of technique, strategy etc. It's sort of like a game of pretend-- "I'll pretend I'm writing a novel!" & then, next thing you know, yr doing that very thing. The aubade part came in because I love writing in the morning first thing after I've gotten up. Taking full-time care of a two year old makes that impossible so I realized I could write my own morning to write in if you will, this sort of meta way of getting back something I've lost. So the book will approach 'the morning' from various angles, do a little homemade Bachelard phenomenology of it, unpack it politically like the fascist morning/Regan's Morning in America, the left-y morning 'golden socialist dawn' & all of that, but anything & everything related to it. The light through yonder smartphone's breaking & the where for art thous infinitely etc'd at the heartsick window of love.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you chose to play the part of the characters in your book?
Omg there are sooooo many people in this book already & I've only just begun so it's kinda tough. In some capacity I'd love for Chris Tucker to be in it. He's such a gifted person but he's disappeared these last years & this absence has only added mystique, a Garbo-like power to his aspect. Seeing him in Silver Linings Playbook, a little plumper, with a pain-wizened face, some wounded rue in his humor was so bittersweet & hard, & for me very personal. He was the soul of that thing, & you can tell in the depth of his performance he's been through his own stuff, his own troubles, & he really gives you that even in what little screen time he has. Every time his character left the frame Sarah & I looked at each other in frustration, loving him so, & then even when he's finally in something he remains just out of reach, always vanishing. So, with this thing, if it were a movie, if I could have him involved in the production, even as a spiritual advisor, I feel like the rest of the cast & everything else about the piece would just fall into place.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Well I've just gotten started! I have a map in my mind though--four sections of 8 to 10 chapters each, with each section to be concluded by a longish poem, although the chapters dive in & out of verse as it is. Who knows what will come of this plan in the months ahead. In the meantime it gives me something to hook into. I'd love to have a rough version of it done around this time next year. I'm doing all this writing for the Poetry Foundation this month & that's kind of slowed me down but I have tons & tons of notes. The first three chapters are finished & I feel good about that so far, by which I mean I can see extending the various logics & musics they've established for a good while. I'm excited about it, & feel very "in the world" of the thing if you know what I mean, like, I live in the world of the book now, & that for me is the most important thing.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The what of it I feel like I covered. The who? Again, phew, there's a lot. I'd say part of what this first section & these first chapters are attempting to do is sing along with, through & toward some conversations I've been having (with Cathy Wagner), & some writing I've been reading (Cathy's, as well as things by Anne Boyer, Lauren Berlant, Ariana Reines, Stephanie Young, lots of others) on the question of love. That'll be important to the whole book, but this first section specifically, & so those people have been quite inspiring. Catherine Malabou's work, in books like The New Wounded & Changing Difference, has given me a lot to respond to & reckon with. I'm really inspired by her right now, & later sections of the book will be me singing through some of her thinking specifically, though I haven't quite gotten to that bit yet. But generally who will inspire it? Anyone who does anything that's challenging, antagonistic, beautiful, upsetting, soothing etc. The basic deal & so as always--Sarah, Vivian, my Mom, & my friends.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As to where it'll be published right now I have no clue.
As for the agency part--I dropped William Morris last year & I'm over at CAA now. I like it well enough although I don't feel like "part of the family" yet you know? These things take time I guess but I'm impatient, & look, if I'd had it my way I'd have done something with RocNation but it just didn't happen. Don't get me wrong-- Jay & I got along fine. Sure there was a lot ego in the room but I felt like we were going to make it work. We just couldn't get to that number you know what I mean? We were close. Really close actually. But finally we just couldn't get there. So that's how I landed over at CAA. I ran into Katy (Perry) at their LA shop last week (we have some of the same reps) & we just sort of rolled our eyes & laughed as we passed each other in the hall. I think she feels a little on the outside there as well. Plus, you know how fake those places can be & Katy's just so real. It was a nice moment. Hopefully she & I can work on something together at some point. I'd love to have her be involved in this book somehow. That'd be great. She's super busy of course. But we'll see.
PS: Can you imagine hearing the five of them read at one thing?! I'd faint I think.
PSS: That photo at the top is of Andrew Wiggins. He's the best high school basketball player in the word. He balls like an angel I swear to god just wait until next year when (heaven willing) he suits up for Kentucky. Even if that blessed thing does not occur, if you love basketball at all be sure to give him a look. He's really really special. Plays like a genius. Watch that mixtape I linked his name with. You might cry. He IS the next big thing. Divine.
Poet Dana Ward is the author of a number of chapbooks: New Couriers (2006), Goodnight Voice (2008), The Drought (2009), Typing ‘Wild Speech’ (2010), and the full-length This Can’t Be Life (2012). Influenced by the work of Alice Notley, Jack Kerouac, and others, Ward’s poetry is densely patterned and highly...