Since my blog is where I share my dual French American identity, you won’t be too surprised to learn that besides writing fiction I also wrote a non fiction manuscript related to my mixed self.
I should call it a memoir, but I think that memoirs are written either by celebrities or by important people old enough to share their expertise or by ordinary people who have been through an extraordinary event that has universal appeal.
I am none of these people.
My manuscript is built around my observations from my life in the States and from my trips back to France. The world is becoming increasingly similar in terms of culture and even language. When I arrived in California in 1990, France and the States had little in common. Everything was new to me. My textbook English was in my way, so people were amused, yet always gracious and encouraging.
Ultimately, like any other immigrant, I made mine most American things that had seemed odd when I arrived. Unlike most, however, I chose to write fiction in English and not in my native language. I learned how to write through the countless books I read and through my American-born children as I tried (with mixed results!) to teach them French. Sesame Street helped me a little too!
In the end, when it comes to culture, I remain a hybrid woman: the product of my two homes on earth.
I started this manuscript mostly to keep track of personal and world events, yet I submitted a few stories based on this work to various writing contests. Two of them placed in a California writing event and a few editors encouraged me to pursue the completion of this manuscript.
As time passed and my English writing skills improved, I realized that I kept returning to this specific work, constantly adding and revising without ever finding it ready for publication. Lately I decided to keep it as a personal draft. Period.
But a few days ago Sherri Matthews and then Elizabeth Cardamone invited me to participate to a Work-In-Progress Challenge. I rarely get involved in blogging events, yet I thought that these two invitations were maybe my opportunity to seek YOUR opinion.
You see, the reason why I keep returning to my manuscript to abandon it again is my inability to target my readership. Pretty serious issue, no?
So now, I’m asking YOU:
- Should I target American readers and stick to my current manuscript, written in English?
Many American writers have told of their French experiences, often in Paris and southern France, but not the other way around. Do you care for this type of book? What interests you most when you read a book based on life spent abroad? Would you learn anything worth your time and money with mine?
- Ou dois-je le traduire pour des lecteurs français?
Qu’en dites-vous les français et les françaises? Quels sont les livres récents que vous connaissez sur le sujet? Pensez-vous que les français en savent assez sur les USA d’avant le 11 septembre? Est-ce un pays qui tente encore? Etes-vous tentés?
Following the simple guidelines of this Work-in-Progress Challenge (see rules below) I give you seven lines from my manuscript. Désolée je n’ai pas encore traduit en français!
“I’m taking highway One-O-One.” My husband maneuvered the titanic Oldsmobile out of the airport parking spot.
“One-O-One?” I remembered our French A1, A6 and A13.
“People call it that,” he confirmed with a nod. “There is also highway 280, which they call two-eighty. Americans say O for zero and spell numbers out. They do the same for phone numbers. Easier than our French way, right?”
I tried to register everything he said. His familiar voice rocked me as the car plunged through the potholes cratering the highway. I had been up for countless hours but I was in California, in a car that seemed to come from a movie, on a road that led to the heart of the Silicon Valley. Everything was new to me, so I straightened my back against the vinyl-covered seat: I didn’t want to miss anything.
Since this is a blogging event I tag a few writers, also virtual friends of mine.
There is of course no obligation for you to participate, but perhaps you are also stuck with one of your work-in-progress manuscripts and are questioning its value, wondering if it’s worth your time and energy and would love some feedback.
The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.