Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pie-in-the-sky fantasies

The progress of an idea:

I see a call for papers for an essay collection that makes me howl out loud.

I call George Washington Boyfriend to read it to him, realize as I'm reading it that the proposed book doesn't actually totally suck, but continue to think that it's a pretty pointless topic.

Some weeks go by. I read an article on a very minor writer that includes a fabulous quotation from said writer. I mark the quotation. It reminds me of something in Milton, and of something in Donne--and then of some stuff I vaguely remember from some civil war tracts I read a long time ago.

Hey! I think. This could totally work for that stupid CFP I saw.

But, it would be a lot of work. And it's not really anything I'm interested in.

Hm. Actually, no--it kinda
does tie into some issues that I'm very interested in.

I rifle through a bunch of old notes, skim a few works I haven't read in years, and start to wonder whether it's worth putting a proposal together.

I go out to Northwest City and read a 300-page civil war-era work via Early English Books Online, which I'm sure will provide me with what I need.

It doesn't.

Frustrated by the fact that it ALMOST has what I want it to have, I start thinking about ways that I could refashion and broaden the subject while still keeping it within the proposed volume's parameters.

I do some more reading.

And then one morning, brushing my teeth, I think: you know, there's a LOT of that other, kinda related stuff going on in lots of seventeenth-century works. But it's all so weird and complicated--I don't even know what to make of it. That's more than an article; that's one serious, bad-ass book right there.

And then I realize: It's my book. My second book.


[This is not, of course, to say that I've yet drafted the new chapter that I'm supposedly writing for the manuscript that already exists, or that that entire thing is even close to being submittable--but you know my beliefs by now.]


Pilgrim/Heretic said...

How very cool!! and I love keeping track of moments like those, so later you can look back and say, On this day was born Book 2!

Leslie M-B said...

Yay! That's so exciting. I can't wait to get started on my next project now that (I hope) the worst of the dissertation is over.

Anonymous said...

As you know, my belief system re: writing is all about letting things percolate. I myself have spent the last couple of days taking notes for a wacky idea that might be an article sometime or maybe a popular (i.e., not exactly academic) book or maybe an academic biography or maybe nothing at all. Clearly I should be working on The Book, but I've had a bee in my bonnet about this other topic, so I went for it.

All of which is to say: How exciting to be thinking about the next book!

Unknown said...

I love this post! It made me say Ahhh. This is just how it happens. Congrats on an insight well earned.