For our the last meeting of my nonfiction workshop, we were asked to write a 4-5 page overview/summary of our book projects, as if we were putting together a full book proposal. For those of you unfamiliar with nonfiction book proposals, the overview would serve as the first intro into the book and the proposal itself. It might be followed by sample chapters or chapter summaries, suggestions on marketing and potential competition, and info about the author’s expertise.
I wrote a 5 page overview for a book about the year I spent living in Korea in 1995-1996, and found the experience very difficult. It’s hard to summarize a)something you haven’t written yet, and b) something about which your ideas aren’t fully formed.
I did know that I wanted to convey that the book would extend beyond my own experience into the stories of my students and others I met in Korea. Underlying all of that would be the news events that affected everyone, usually involving North Korea, thereby making it relevant to a wider audience and giving it a connection to now.
I was prepared to have my summary slashed by my classmates, but they reacted quite enthusiastically. Several suggested that I go back to Korea with B. and create a new narrative to go with the old one, how Korea has changed since I was there previously…possibly because part of the interest in the earlier narrative was that the country was changing so rapidly.
I still have a lot of doubts about whether I can make this project come together, mostly owing to my bad memory, but it helped to get so much encouragement.