“Beware the man of one book.”
-attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas
My first post on this blog was back in July, 2005. That’s six and a half years of blog posts on this, with no actual book.
It’s been fun, certainly, but I’ve realized that I could keep doing this indefinitely, without ever actually writing my supposed book. Blogging is certainly more fun than the grind of delayed gratification and possible rejection of conventional publishing, but an actual book, if published, means more status and money. While I’ve maintained a fairly steady output on blog postings, I’ve gone for six months or even a year without working on the book directly.
I also have to ask when enough information is enough. Is this going to be the last word on the topic, or is it one of many books on the subject?
You can look at it like two different modes of creative production. JRR Tolkien, for example, basically wrote one big story, the saga of Middle-Earth, investing just about everything he knew into it. It’s hard to see the the connection between The Hobbit and the Silmarilion, but it’s there. Tolkien wrote other fiction, but he’s been known for his magnum opus.
Michael Moorcock, by comparison, wrote lots and lots of novels short novels, allegedly writing 15,000 words a day at his peak. A lot of his generation of writers just wrote a lot more.
So, do I want to invest all my time and energy and hope into one great work, or write many different works that can succeed and fail independently?
The history of BDSM isn’t the last non-fiction book I want to write. It isn’t even necessarily the last book on BDSM I want to write.
So, I hereby state that by my 40th birthday, October 27th, 2012, I will have completed a first draft of my book, and will have begun submitting it to publishers.
This will be a much scaled down work of about 60,000 words, and more tightly focused than the encyclopedic 100,000 words I originally planned. Call it 10 chapters of no more than 6,000 words each. By necessity, this will mean leaving out a lot of stuff, in favour of a tighter narrative.
My biggest fear, of course, in saying this is that in 10.5 months I will shamefully admit to all of you out there (crickets chirp… chirp… chirp) that I didn’t do this. My success in this task is up to me and nobody else.
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