I’ve put it off long enough. I’ve blocked off a few days in my schedule, I’ve prepared myself mentally (I hope) and I’ve gathered the things I need. Today I begin in earnest on my new book, The Next Story, and by “in earnest” I really just mean I’m going to start for real; all I’ve got so far is a proposal. (Click here if you’d like an overview of the book). This gives me just about six months to write a 200-250 page manuscript. That may seem like a long time but I know the weeks will race by, leaving me scrambling by the end. It’s pretty much inevitable and unavoidable.
I have very limited experience in writing books, with only one to my credit so far. The second time around I feel somewhat more prepared for the experience, maybe like a mother heading into labor with her second child. She knows it’s going to be brutal but she knows as well that there will be joy when all is said and done. That’s probably not quite a fair analogy, though, because I do enjoy the writing process far more, I’m sure, than a mother enjoys being in labor. Plus, a man can never use childbirth as a metaphor without arousing the wrath of women who have actually been through it. So scratch that analogy. Suffice it to say that I’m at once looking forward to and dreading the experience. I know it is going to have huge highs and deep lows.
Here is my office where I’ll be spending my days, tapping away on my computer.
I may well also migrate occasionally to Artisano, a local bakery cafe that serves the most outrageously delicious steak and portobello sandwich along with pastries that are actually worth eating (a rarity, I find) and a wide selection of overpriced drinks ($4 for lemonade? Are you serious?). Best of all, they have free WiFi and don’t seem to mind people who hang out there for hours at a time.
I would really like to use Apple’s Pages to write the manuscript, both because of its less-cluttered interface and its handy full-screen mode that blocks out all visual distractions. So I will begin with Pages but may have to eventually transition to Word, especially once we get to the editing stage and the tracking function comes into play. That is not a happy thought since Word on Mac is somewhat less than wonderful.
I’ve done the important work of selecting my font (11pt Palatino) and my line spacing (1.4). These things are important to me to the point of being silly. But I figure that if I have to stare at a manuscript for hundreds or thousands of hours, it may as well look the best it can. It leaves me with a screen that looks really black and white:
To the other side of my desk, behind my chair, is all of this:
That little cart there is stuffed full of books I intend to read or re-read as I go. Actually, there are quite a few more than you see there since my wife has offered to take on some of the reading and has selected a stack of titles to work her way through, taking notes and getting together some big picture ideas. She is good to me.
In the coming days I intend to do little writing, lots of reading and massive amounts of note-taking. Though I have prepared quite a detailed proposal for the book, I want to start afresh, at least to some extent, to ensure that my approach to the topic is really the best it can be. I will first seek out the themes that will appear through the book, look for a biblical framework to understand the human heart and technology, and then go looking for the topics of the individual chapters. Even as I write this I am excited to get to work.
In the weeks to come I’ll introduce you to the cast of characters who are going to help make this book come together. But for now, I had best quit procrastinating and start this book. It’s not going to write itself, is it?
But first, one more item. As I began writing The Discipline of Spiritual Discipline several years ago, I specifically asked the readers of this site if they would commit to praying for me once a week. It was a tremendous encouragement to me to talk to readers, often people I had only just met at a conference, who told me “I’m praying for you.” I have no doubt that those prayers were effective and often, when I was struggling and specifically requested prayer, I could honestly feel or sense the difference prayer was making. Once again I would like to ask if you’d be willing to pray for me. This is a book that deals with technology, but even more it is a book that deals with living as Christians in a world that is rapidly changing all around us. It’s not about technology as much as it is about the soul and about the gospel. If I am to write about such things and if I am to do so with any power, I will need God’s help. If you would be willing to ask him to help me, and to do so regularly, I’d be ever grateful.
And here I go…