My wife keeps telling me to write a book, Shehan is telling me to write a book, and even I find myself telling the same stories over and over again. I write at least 20 articles a week and have been batting at that pace for years. I've been blogging for two decades all in. If it was just a matter of word count, a book should be easy. I produce a 'book' every few months. But of course it's not the same thing.
A blog, like a bog, is a place you can visit everyday and just shit something out. I do it all the time. I'm quite regular. A book is something else, like a baby or something. I honestly don't know, I can't make either one.
The problem with the blogging method vs. the booking method is one of editing. A blog, or at least my blogs, are single utterances. If I'm really feeling it I just get the title in my head and I can freestyle the whole post in one take. If anyone interrupts me during this period I yell at them and are quite petulant. By anyone I mean my wife. Anyways.
Growing up my biggest literary influences were rappers. Poets like Nas, Wu-Tang, and Outkast. These are poets à la Homer or Valmiki, OG oral culture. A rapper must be able to free-style, and increasingly, rap songs became free-styled more and more often. As The Game said, "this rap shit is basic, I followed that Jay shit, Think of what I wanna say, step in the booth and one-take it."
Lil Wayne ripped up all of his notebooks on 10,000 Bars and never wrote a rhyme down again. Over the last 20 years, however, he has been prolific. His method is to smoke a lot of weed, do a lot of codeine, and record incessently. He is always publishing, mix tapes, albums, even rock music. Wayne will get in there and 'one-take it' a dozen times until he gets it right. You have to start each verse again. That's simply the only way of editing in oral culture, even with digital editing. It's not just the words, you have to get the flow right. Editing means starting that verse over.
This is how I've always approached blog writing. Each post is a verse, and if one word is wrong I go back and start it over. Everything gets rewritten in 'one-take', even if it takes a dozen times. Which is often does. This is fine for writing a 1,000 word blog post, but absolutely suicidal for writing a 100,000 word book.
The truth is that I've started this book a hundred times. I have a hundred intros, a few scattered bones of Chapter 1's, and an absolute desolation of Chapters 2's. If something is wrong I go back and 'one-take' it, but for book length that doesn't work. I'm not Muhammad getting told by the angel Jibril to recite, I'm not Wayne the promethazine Prometheus, I'm just a writer, standing in front of a reader, asking them to read him.
The only way I can think around my (book) writers block is to bring it out here like a slab of marble and sit on it. The only process I can think of is telling you the process, breaking the fourth wall of writing, which is pretending that we know what the fuck we're doing, that every narrator is omniscient, that every piece 'just woke up like this.' It didn't, they arent, and we don't. I certainly don't. So I'm going to fill the word count with asides about how lazy and unfocused I am because A) it's true and B) it fills the word count and C) is a wall worth breaking.
For example, today I walked through the streets of Oxford before All Hallows Eve, with my daughter skipping ahead of me. Her in her iridescent silver Doc Martens, kicking through the damp autumn leaves, with a pin holding her dress up. Me following behind, one overcoat button missing. I am her, a parent as my first job, and it's generally lovely. I wish I could match her joy, my heart skipping ahead of me. Then again I don't, I like experiencing it vicariously.
This has nothing to do with a book, but it is how a book is being written. Not as abstract ideas, but as a moment of connection to another human being. I am physically here, my fingers are physically pressing buttons, that touch is then copied and copied again until it reaches you, depressing sensors on your retina, then rushing to the back of your brain and triggering a rush of activation. Writing is a magical thing this, it is the closest we get to mind control. We all have an inner narrator and we can swap them out by manipulating a few symbols. A magic spell really.
I digress, but I will digress. I can disgress. A book is longer. I'll take that liberty. This isn't a book about understanding, I don't want to give you a pat sense of the world, ancedotes for cocktail parties. This is a book about my understanding, which is only useful insomuch as it confuses you, as much as it triggers you to pursue your own understanding. The truth is that when we talk to each other we don't understand each other. We're really just talking to ourselves, running another voice through our inner narrator, seeing what it reveals. That's my only goal here (beyond you thinking I'm smart and everybody thinking I'm smart and my wife being happy). My goal is to tell you about The End Of The World As I Know It. A very personal take on something happening to everybody.
To that end I will tell a history of everything in five rebirths. Because I was there for the whole thing.