I’m looking out this window and its twin, about four hours after I took advantage of first light to snap the photo above. It’s a classic beach day here at Ocean Park, Maine: 75 degrees, sunlight dancing on the sea, lots of folks playing in the orderly waves. So why am I inside, you might ask. Good question. The answer is that I rode a few waves after our early 10-mile bike ride, and since then I’ve been enjoying beach bliss here with a cup of strong coffee at my desk, listening to a Pandora Beach Boys mix and looking out at late summer. Oh, and I also started writing a book.
Which brings us to today’s verse from the Gospel According to Marshall McLuhan, aka Understanding Media:
The book is a private confessional form that provides a “point of view.” p. 204
And why write a book?
Because for rational beings to see or re-cognize their experience in a new material form is an unbought grace of life. Experience translated into a new medium literally bestows a delightful playback of earlier awareness. p. 211
The experience that I yearn to play back is a literary love story. In the past three years I have fallen in love with e-books. The matchmaker was Amazon, with its several versions of the Kindle. But the object of my affection is not the thing itself; this is not about the smell of the Kindle. It’s about Reading, revealed to me in a new dimension. It’s as if you had married your high school sweetheart and lived faithfully with her for five decades, only to discover that she is—oh, baby!—a goddess from another universe where love lasts forever and has the power to reverse human aging.
This desire to write a book about e-books has been gathering within me for about four months. One catalyst was the author Steven Pressfield, whom I interviewed for The Kindle Chronicles for TKC 143. Steve’s The War of Art and the manifesto based on it that he published with Seth Godin’s Domino Project prompted me to jot down the essence of a book on a sheet of yellow, legal-size foolscap paper. In Do The Work, the manifesto, Steve got me going with this:
Don’t overprepare. Don’t let research become Resistance. Don’t spend six months compiling a thousand-page tome detailing the emotional matrix and family history of every character in your book.
Outline it fast. Now. On instinct.
Discipline yourself to boil down your story/new business/philanthropic enterprise to a single page.
So I did that. I still have my yellow foolscap page, dated April 24, 2011 – not quite six months ago, but I better get going if I’m going to beat that target.
Steve is a student of Resistance and its infinite wiles, which is what makes his books on this topic so valuable to anyone undertaking a creative project. I share his belief that “the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” But I also have a sense that angels often see a struggle developing and arrive on the scene to help out. Mine at this point include Steven Pressfield, a loyal and articulate listener of the Kindle Chronicles who lives in Paris and Norway, and, as of yesterday, a woman named Melissa Ludtke.
Melissa is editor of the excellent Nieman Reports, published on paper and the web by the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Via our shared connection with Dan Kennedy at Northeastern, whom I interviewed for TKC 156, she invited me to write an essay for the winter issue. Her original idea was that it would be about what journalists need to know about publishing their work for e-readers, but she showed herself to be a skillful and intuitive editor when she shifted the assignment in mid-stream during our introductory phone call. She had asked what I’m working on, and I found myself laying out the still-forming plan for a book about how I’ve made an ecstatic transition from reading on paper to reading e-books. “Why don’t you write about that?” Melissa responded. So that’s my assignment, due in mid-October. Which will be, incidentally, about six months from when I jotted down my plan on foolscap. Nice try, resistance!
It’s not too smart to gloat in the face of resistance, especially since I’ve now spent four hours on this first day of announced work on the book writing about my writing a book. But by translating my intention into the medium of a blog post, I am now able to re-cognize the project which has been beckoning me since April.
I like the idea of sharing my progress on the book here on my blog, but I’ll feel my way forward on that one. Meanwhile, if you have any advice to offer or topics you hope I’ll cover, please leave a comment below or get in touch with me at PodChronicles AT Gmail DOT com.