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Book Update: A Lot Done, So Much to Go...

So I'm working on a book. It's a collection of essays called "Practical Classics: Rereading your Favorite Books from High School English Class" 50 essays, each one arguing for why a book from high school can be useful to you as a grownup. It'll be published by Prometheus Books and will be available in early 2013. I'm to hand the thing in on June 1. 

I've finished 16 essays which means a) I'm 32% done and b) I have a heckuva lot left to go. And not much time left to do it.

Of course I could turn in the book late (my friend Katie actually said "You'd be the first writer to hand in a manuscript on time. Probably ever." But "Practical Classics" is my first book where every word is written by me. I hope to write about a dozen more before I die and I'd like to set good habbits now. The thought of being 60 and still approaching writing with the dread of an eighth grader completing an essay on "Lord of The Flies" horrifies me.

I know its going to take me a long time to feel comfortable producing words as regularly as brushing my teeth. I'd like to start now.   

I fear this means a lot of long days, nights in and work on the weekends between now and June. I hate this idea. But I don't really see another way. At least from where I stand, about 16 miles from the finish line. 

Between now and then, I'm slated to be a writer-in-residence at two separate programs--The Ragdale Colony in Lake Forrest, Illinois (for 1 week) and the Vermont Studio Center in just-outside-of-Beijing, Vermont (for 1 month). I leave for Ragdale tomorrow (!) and am scheduled to spent April in Vermont. I figure I'll see how well I do at Ragdale and decide on Vermont when I get home in February. 

I am not someone who sees Middle-of-Nowhere as an artistic blessing. Not sleeping in my own bed, not going to the office each morning, being far from wife and friends, scares me. I know it allows me time to just focus on my writing. That's probably what scares me. I've never had that kind of mandate-from-fate to just write before. 

But a blessing it is. There's about 3 perks you get when working on a book and this is one (the other two? Eh, bragging rights and, something I haven't found). It's up to me to take the opportunity and sprint. 

So I won't be on the social media channels much for the rest of this month. I'll be here...


But with snow on the ground. 

Wish me warmth. And focus.