Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Big Book

Every writer who is at least halfway serious about the craft has at least one. It's The Big Book, the one you carry with you always, the one you're going to write "some day." Though you've never really officially started work on it, it's always there in the back of your mind, nagging at you, suggesting little vignettes and bits of business, popping out perfect lines and ideas during the midst of the otherwise boring moments of your life. So you're forever scribbling keywords and fragments of ideas in the margins of lecture notes during dull classes, or on the backs of church bulletins during dull sermons, or on a flurry of tiny Post-It notes that become a pastel-colored halo around the edges of your desk as you suffer through yet another deadly dull teleconference.

What's The Big Book about? It doesn't matter. What matters is that you really believe in it, and you know you're going to write it some day, and when you do, it's going to really mean something. Maybe it's going to change the world. Maybe it's going to change your life. Maybe it's only going to get something out of your system, so that you can finally move on and think about something else. And you know, you just know, you're going to write it some day.

But not today. No, today's the wrong day; the time isn't right. You need to do more research, or you're not in the right mood, or the world isn't ready for it yet, or your shoes are too tight or your chair is too squeaky or the sun is shining in the window at just exactly the wrong angle. There are a million excuses for not writing The Big Book, and I know them all, and I bet you do, too. And, like me, I bet you know in your heart of hearts that each and every one of them is just exactly that: a feeble excuse.

What keeps a writer from writing The Big Book? Fear of commitment? Maybe. Performance anxiety? Perhaps. Are you waiting for a sign, or some kind of cosmic permission? Could be. What matters is that the reason doesn't matter. What matters is that right now, you are not writing this book.

So consider this your official notice. Time's up. All your excuses are belong to us. The signal is given; if you were waiting for permission, it is hereby granted. For those of you waiting for the right time to begin, there is a very high probability that there will never be a better time.

Someday is today.

Therefore, as of today, I've begun work on my next novel. It's The Big Book; the one I've been thinking about for 15 years: the one that's going to melt brains and make everyone who reads it question all of their assumptions about life, the universe, and everything. My plan is to write at least one thousand words a day, every day, and while I know that there will be mistakes, setbacks, and dead-ends, my goal is to have a fully developed outline and 50,000 words of usable text in hand on September 1, 2007.

What's stopping you?