oh yeah, about that book


It’s finished! Well by finished I mean I sent it off to the editor and expect to not hear about it for a while. So, from the time my [soon to be] editor wrote to me saying “I’m an acquisitions editor … and I’m looking for someone to write a book on technology and rural libraries. Are you interested in exploring the possibilities?” and the day I emailed the manuscript back to her, a little over a year went by. But really, if you look at the picture, I did most of the actual writing/typing in the past few months. And fractionally, I did an awful lot of it in the last ten days.

This last spurt is not because the book wasn’t basically done, it was, but because there were a whole bunch of other “Oooh, I should really make sure I mention that” ideas that came up when I was sleeping or eating or doing one of the other very short list of things that I’ve done in the past week. This short list did not include much in the way of getting out of my pajamas, showering, exercising, or what I’ve come to call “deferred maintenance” around the place. I did manage to feed the birds, feed me, answer the phone and do a few short stints at an actual library (which would send me home with an “I’ve got to make sure I mention THAT” bee in my bonnet, lather, rinse, repeat).

Anyone following along with Twitter would have been able to follow along with my word-count-as-zip-code which, when combined with a neat looker-upper like this one by Ben Fry gave me a loosely east-to-west trajectory which was a better general way to feel that the project was actually progressing. By the time I turned in my 98506 (Olympia Washington!) word draft, I was not hating it, which is more than I can say about my college thesis.

The book is due to come out in January 2011. It’s for sale on Amazon and it is totally okay with me if you do not buy it. Really. The thing about writing books is that in almost all cases, it’s really not something you do because you’re going to make any money. If I thought I would have been able to keep to a writing schedule through my own independent motivation, I would have maybe self-published if cash were important. I probably have the reputation and self-promotional chops to actually sell the thing on my own. But I never would have written it.

Having a real publisher and a real human editor is the only way this project really got done. And so my 15% or whatever it is that I take home when someone purchases my book basically rounds to zero when I think about how much time I put into it. And with my critique of capitalism generally, and how this revenue split works out, I know my younger self would basically be telling my current self that I’d be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. I’m okay with that. I think people will buy it and read it, and a good chunk of them will like it okay. And with any luck at all they can take some of my advice to heart (whether through agreeing or disagreeing really, just be thinking about it) and use it to help the people who really are getting the short end of the stick in our brave new information age. That’s what I would like, besides a good shower and a nice reunion with the outside world.

the most boring people in the world are writing books

Jericho Town Library

I swore I was only going to write here again when I explained how the town finally got out of the lake, but it’s there still and I had a few things to say.

First, yeah wow, I’m a little surprised that it takes this long to correct an obvious map error, but that’s sort of the good news/bad news about doing your business in the cloud yes? Google Maps is great because it’s got a ton of data and delivers it to people with very little human interaction needed. Downside being when you need a human it’s pretty much impossible to get one.

I took a day off from writing yesterday (I’m ahead with my word count) and drove to Underhill after having lunch with my friend Stephanie in Montpelier. No idea how I missed Underhill before. In fact I’m pretty sure I must have been there before but the maps show no highlighter pen and I can find no record of it. Underhill is sort of a co-town with Jericho. They even have a shared website: Two Towns Online. The back road I wanted to take was under construction, a casualty of the weird snow we got this week, so I got to take fairly normal roads to get up there. And there was snow! I stopped at the local library [not the one in the photo] and did a little email checking. Once I got home I was curious about the funky looking building that also said library on it. Of course, there’s a web page explaining it.

I’ve installed keylogging software on my machine because I’m convinced that whatever amount of words I’m typing for the book, I’m doubling it with email, blog posts, chatting and whatnot. I wanted to check if that was actually true. I realize this makes me a crazy person. I will report back with my findings.

The bigger deal is just that as much as I’m enjoying writing this book, watching the word count increase, getting my thoughts on paper, I’m also somehat blasé about it, sometimes to the point of being downright yawningly bored. I can’t explain to people what it’s about without apologizing and even though it’s all I think about lately, I feel like I have nothing to talk about when I chat with friends. “Still writing the book.” I say. “Great.” they say. And then we talk about the weather or something interesting. I realize that this is normal. I felt this way about my thesis. I’m sure I will miss these days, when the book wasn’t a set of words on a page but a set of ideas in my head. Fixing things to paper gives them a terrible finality that makes me somewhat nervous.

I look forward to having something else to talk about, just a month or two left. And in the meantime, I read quotations from the other Jessamyn West, who had been writing much longer than I have.

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers having had their hell on earth, will escape punishment hereafter.”