Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beginning the Book

I'm now starting the work of writing my first real book. In order to keep it realistic I've conceived of it as a collection of 9 5000-word essays, framed by an introduction (3000 words) and a conclusion (2000 words). That's 50,000 words altogether in ten parts (I always think of the introduction and conclusion together as one "part").

My plan is to work on the book for three hours every Thursday. Since I can quite easily write 400 words in 30 minutes, I can expect to write 2400 words each session, or about half of each of the parts. In the spirit of Kafka's "The Great Wall of China", I'm going to work on each part in sequence without finishing it, going back to fill in the holes after the whole thing has been worked through. After 10 weeks, then, almost half the book (24,000 words) will have been written (importantly, however, it will not be the first half, but half the words along its whole "length"). This will give me a good sense of the shape of the book and will, hopefully, confirm that it's going to be a good book. At this point, I will increase the intensity, working two hours every day to fill in what is missing for another two or three weeks. Then I will take a break.

Maybe I'm being a bit optimistic (especially about the amount of words I'm going to write). But keep in mind that the content of this book is not at all a mystery to me. I've probably already said everything I'm going to say in the book on this blog. It is much more like I'm building something, putting something together, than "writing" it. (Though I will not, I've decided, be cutting and pasting from my posts.) I'm really just "packaging" my ideas for a particular kind of consumption.


matt said...

The idea of "building" vs. "writing" is less of a contrast than it might seem given that the literal definition of composition is something like assembling or putting parts together.

I can't wait to read this project!

Thomas said...

Well, I'd still say there's a difference between cutting and pasting (which, it turns out, is what I'm doing a lot of) and actually writing. But there is also a difference between "merely" writing (sentences) and actually composing. (See this post.)

Maybe you won't have to wait very long. I should have a draft done, like I say, soon. And I will be looking for readers.