“The disorder of the desk, the floor; the yellow Post-it notes everywhere; the whiteboards covered with scrawl: all this is the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought.”
— Ellen Ullman
I’m writing a new book. It’s my third book, and the weirdest one for me so far, because I’m writing it the way you think of someone writing a book: I had an idea for a book and now I’m sitting in the same room every day all day and trying to write it.
Neither of my other two books were made this way. Newspaper Blackout was “written” the same way I’d always made blackout poems — one at a time on my lunch break and my commute to and from work. The only difference was that I didn’t post them to my blog and I made a hell of a lot more of them than usual for about 20 weeks, then half of those pieces were thrown out and the rest were pieced together into a sort of narrative. Steal Like An Artist began as an hour-long talk written in a hotel room which was mostly adapted from over five years of online writing, that talk was turned into a 4,000 word blog post, then over two months of nights and weekends I expanded that blog post into 10,000 words and about 30 or so illustrations.
Both those books presented themselves as books after being something else online. This one is like starting from scratch.
This is what the book look liked a month or two ago — just a big stack of index cards and a few notebooks full of scribbles.
A few weeks ago I jumped over to handwriting on sheets of cardstock — essentially, really big index cards that I could then shuffle and play around with. (Above are the stairs leading up to my office filled with an insane, completely unsustainable marathon day’s worth of writing.)
I’m still working, slow and steady. I’m not quite ready to talk about the subject of the new book yet, but as I alluded to yesterday, I think it picks things up nicely from Steal, and if you’ve been following my Tumblr or my “Show Your Work” videos you have some major hints.
Right now, that messy office above is cleaned up and in the corner under the guitars is a baby swing waiting for a baby. My wife is about a week or so away from giving birth to our first son. With the baby coming, I might be pretty quiet for the next month. (I’ll probably still be updating my Tumblr and posting a baby picture or two or three on Twitter.) I’ve been told that becoming a parent lights a fire under your ass like nothing else, so we’ll see what happens!