Having spent most of this week writing THE book, I thought I would answer some of the questions folks have been asking about the book, and about writing in general. And then I have my own question – about publishing the book, at least in part, here on the blog first. But first let me answer the questions folks have been asking me, starting with the easy ones.
First, the writing is going really well – amazingly well. This is the 3rd or 4th time I am writing this book, and with each previous version, I had known as I wrote that it wasnâ€™t quite there. This time, the book outlined itself in my head; I knew from the moment I started, this is it. So that feels amazing. The book is scheduled for editing by the end of June, and we are still aiming at releasing it this fall. So the pressure is on!
As for the topic, it is the focus of this blog, the focus of the Institute, the focus of everything we are doing these days: How can we leverage the tremendous potential of this sector to create a better future for our communities and our world? As you can probably tell from just the few months I have been blogging, the answer is huge. Exciting, but huge.
Now for the more writerly questions: Finding time to write, sitting down and doing it, and then the worst of all – what to do when The Book becomes, as my friend, author Renata Rafferty commiserates in calling it, The $!&# Book. I can answer that one first – it hasnâ€™t happened yet, not for this book. I know it will happen, because it has happened with all my others. When it does, the only thing Iâ€™ve found that works is a deadline, which Iâ€™ve got. So when I check back in with you all and Iâ€™m whining, you will know the book has become The $!&# Book, which is a good sign that the end is near!
As for finding time to write, itâ€™s been helpful to have a deadline. I started with 2 weeks away from the world, thanks to a dear and generous friend who encourages me to use his familyâ€™s second home – a condo in Coronado, off San Diego – to write. As Dimitri and I learned when we spent 6 months working along the Mexican coast and 2 years along the Grand Canyon with the Hualapai Tribe, â€œIf weâ€™ve got to work somewhere…â€
While being sequestered is a writerâ€™s dream, having a place that allowed me to write all day, and then clear my head with a 2 hour walk along the beach – well it was a blessing, and the book would not be where it is without that.
Now for the question I am asked all the time (including by my own mother). â€œHow can you just spend all day writing?â€ And the simple answer is, Iâ€™m a writer. If you are a writer, this isnâ€™t a chore; it is who you are. Kurt Vonnegut once told an interviewer that you know you are a writer if you have no choice but to write. I have a lighted pad in my bed, and a waterproof diverâ€™s slate in my shower. Yes, itâ€™s probably more than a bit compulsive, but I have no choice. I am a writer.
I do have to confess, though, that finding time and focus to write back home here in Tucson has been another story. I tried to write every morning, but I quickly gave up in awe (ok perhaps more in disbelief) of those writers who say they have written entire books in 2 hour chunks each day. I would just be getting going, and it would be time to get to the office!
So now Iâ€™ve blocked entire weeks from my calendar – like this one – to just stay home and write. The dog and cat are WAY happy about that.
Which leads to the question about distractions. Unlike being away, home is loaded with distraction. Here, there are bills to pay and emails to answer and the garden and the animals, and, well, everything. Having a week at a time to just stay home lets me find some rhythm, but itâ€™s not like being alone and away, which is a blessing beyond anything I can describe.
Keeping focused here is easier some days than others. Today was not such an easy one, so I took 4 walks. Itâ€™s 97 degrees out, and I am quite sure the neighbors cannot imagine whatâ€™s up with the nutbar in the sunflower leggings and baseball cap, heading around the block again – but yes, I took 4 walks.
I took reading breaks, too – Noam Chomsky always gets me fired up, and that makes me want to finish the book. And Iâ€™m reading The Chalice and the Blade, by Riane Eisler, which is life affirming and powerful – the story of our origins, from a far more nurturing perspective. I am wishing I had the 2nd book in Taylor Branchâ€™s amazing civil rights / MLK trilogy, as I just finished the first one and was unable to put it down. On second thought, itâ€™s just as well – I would just want to keep reading that one.
So while Iâ€™m not as productive as I was when I had 2 weeks to do nothing but write, the book is getting done, and that is more exciting than I can say.
Now my own question: Some folks have suggested I publish the first portions of the book here on the blog. What do you think? Have you seen that done before? How might it work? And is that something you all would like? Let me know. As Iâ€™ve said before, this blogging thing is new to me, and it is exciting to consider the possibilities.
Thanks to all of you for the encouragement youâ€™re giving me to get the book done. I hope the weekend is good to you.
Me – Iâ€™ll be writing!