I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was working on a real live book. Yes, I’m still working on it. So far I’ve managed to keep in from slipping onto the vast list of projects I’ve started and have every intention of getting back to some day. In case anyone is interested, here are the vital statistics to date: 21 pages (in MS Word format), 82 paragraphs, 11,690 words, and 53,999 non-space characters. Don’t think that’s a lot? Open a blank single spaced Word document and start writing about on any topic on which you consider yourself an authority. Then give me a call when you’ve reached your 21st page of block text… but no cheating. Make sure that’s with standard one inch margins and 12 pitch font. I won’t even make you account for the side notes, comments, or any of the extraneous reference information you end up putting together in the process. After a couple of months living with this work in progress, I’m starting to understand why Hemingway drank.
So far, I’m finding that what works best for me is to just sit down and throw up as many words on the page as possible. Even then, if I can manage a couple of hundred words a day, I’m doing pretty well. I’m trying to write blog posts, comments, and other stuff too, so I’m hoping that it’s more about quality than quantity. If I can keep up this breakneck pace, I should be finished the first rough cut in another 233 days. Sigh. That means editing in the spring and then fine tuning and polishing the final draft in the summer. It all seems perfectly plausible as long as I don’t stop to think about it for too long. Mostly, though, the plan is to just keep writing until I run out of things to say and then decide what needs to come out or what needs beefed up. It’s not elegant, but it’s at least some kind of logic.
I started writing as a catharsis. It was a means of ejecting the poisoned thoughts that I could never openly blog about onto the page and not be particularly worried about how I said it or who I said it about. It’s evolved into a slightly better rounded discussion of my observation of good and bad leadership, the philosophy of management, and the experiences I’ve had with them during a particularly problematic point in my career. Since it’s proven to be largely impossible to untangle the events from the people involved I’ve mostly stopped trying. If it ever sees the light of day, I suppose I’ll just have to accept that some people are going to be pissed off. It doesn’t don’t know if any way to write other than based on my memories of the events as they happened. Lord knows I’ve got a mountain of supporting documentation for most of it… and even what isn’t well documented can be confirmed by eye witness accounts.
The real question, I suppose, is whether I’ll have the guts to actually let anyone see it once it has gotten something in the proximity of finished, which I’m thinking should be some time 60-70,000 words from now. On a personal level, seeing something like this go to print would be a validation of time spent and misspent. If I put on my rational professional hat, well, there’s a difference between burning your bridges and setting fire to the whole damned city. As usual, the parts that will tend to cause trouble are also the most interesting. Maybe I should change the names, call it fiction, and really let the dogs out to run. This is probably one of those times when I should wish I didn’t have a mile-wide malcontent streak.