Today I started writing a new book. A big book: hard cover, 250 pages, 85,000 words, due out in February, 2015. You read that right: 2015.
Since I finished writing my dissertation in early 2011, I haven’t undertake a project of this scope. Instead, I’ve focused on blogging and short-form ebooks. I approach this new project with excitement and trepidation. I have downloaded Scrivener, which I’ve played around with in the past but never fully committed to. This is going to be a major undertaking with much research and widely cast nets, so I’m hoping that Scrivener will help me organize all of the sundry details.
I’ve also got to make some choices. Life is already full, and writing 85,000 words between now and the end of the year is daunting. I cannot do it if I don’t simplify my life. So something’s gotta give.
Of course, the family will suffer, if only because I will be mentally preoccupied with ideas and deadlines, but I hope they won’t suffer too much. I’m coaching Little League again this summer, and there will be soccer games to attend and weekends at the family cabin.
I will continue to blog, both because I absolutely love the literary form of the blog post and the immediate responses I receive, and because the publisher, of course, wants this blog to be vibrant and robust right up to the time the book releases.
I can’t quit my day job because, contrary to popular opinion, writing Christian non-fiction doesn’t pay all the bills.
Here’s what I have changed:
I will basically stop reading anything unrelated to the book’s subject. No more novels till next year. No manuscripts for friends’ books. No books for the Patheos Book Club.
That also means no endorsements (aka, blurbs) until next year.
Also, I will have to ignore the many requests that come in for writing advice. This pains me, because I really do value corresponding with aspiring writers — and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for the help I received from Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Mike Yaconelli, and other in the late 1990s.
And no more meetings for lunch or coffee with acquaintances and people passing through Minnesota. Again, I work very hard to make myself available to anyone who asks for time in person or on the phone. But, at least for the balance of 2013, that will stop.
This is the first pass at simplifying my life to write. If it doesn’t afford me enough time, then I’ll take another pass and cut out some other things.
What do you cut out of your life when you’re starting a big project?