There comes a point, in my experience of book writing, when you can think of nothing else. This is near the end of the process. For months and months you’ve been working at it in increments, and the sudden realization hits you that other people are (you hope) going to read what you’ve been scratching out for a couple of years. My interlocutors tend to be in print or email form. I don’t work day-to-day with colleagues who know about the book, nor, I suspect, would they care very much. In my case this comes as I’m trying to generate attention for Holy Horror, with very limited results. But I don’t have time to think about that now. Nightmares with the Bible is almost ready to submit. If only I had more time to read everything. If only.
Writing is a challenging form of expression. Let me qualify that: getting writing published is challenging. The actual craft flows. The book that is intended to pass scholarly muster, however, must be full of notes and quotes. I’m trying to leave those behind as much as possible since I’ve been reading about these topics for decades and that ought to count for something. Still, that nagging doubt awakes you—haven’t you overlooked something? Some vital source that you should’ve cited? Some argument that knocks your book off its stilts? Near the end of the process it’s hard to concentrate on other things such as blog posts and tweets. Yet you need to build your platform while you’re standing on it. And then there’s the small matter of work that will demand well over forty of your waking hours this coming week. And the index—you can’t forget the index!
In the intervening months you might’ve read some newspaper headlines, read some books off-topic, read other people’s blogs, kept up with social media. Now, however, you have tunnel vision. You’ve said what you have to say, you think. You must check it. And recheck it. Did you leave a sentence open for later comment? What chapter was that in? Have you figured out how to close it? Woe betide those to whom this happens at tax time. Or before a business trip. Making a living as a writer you do not. This avocation, however, is your life. Your legacy. Editors who’ve been remembered are few. A book is a stab at immortality. There are meetings. There are work deadlines. There’s a lawn to mow. Those, however, are mere distractions at this point.