Why isn't my book done?
I started thinking about the idea sometime last year, started organizing my notes and outlines in August 2009, and started writing a little in November or December before shelving it.
I was on fire in Taipei, Taiwan in January. Everything was just right, I wrote 4,000 words on a bad day, and my best day was 17,000 words. Book was complete in rough shortly afterwards.
I was in Northern Thailand in February, in Chiang Mai. I was going to edit, but I didn't really. I was kind of flat. I played a lot of Conquer Club online, surfed around, didn't really get anything done. Then I was traveling around and I wasn't really working on the book.
In fact, I never sent anyone a copy until maybe three weeks ago, when I gave it to one of my friends who was asking. He's a great guy, amazing guy, but I was even gunshy about sending it to him. Lord knows why. If you do creative works, maybe you understand this. If you haven't done anything creative and this doesn't make sense to you, I can't explain it. I think creative people will understand a little.
So I gave it to my friend, and mind you, I hadn't actually opened up the book in a couple months at that point, it was kind of something on the back of my periphery of my mind. And then I wind up sitting down with a friend of mine who is also a writer, and trying to finish his book, and I think - we should set some accountability goals.
I ask him, "When could you have yours done by if you really geared hard to do it?" And he said - "Two weeks from now, August 25th."
And I thought - "Could I do that?" And my first inclination is no, I have lots of things on, and besides, my book's been a rough draft for seven months, there's no way I could edit it down in two weeks.
And then I stopped. Because I'd asked the wrong question. And so I re-asked, "How could I do that?" And I started sketching out ideas.
By tomorrow: Write down:
-Why isn't Critical Thinking ready to ship?
-What's wrong with it?
-What would have to be done for it to be ready?
-Able to sell the book without blushing
Do this for 2-4 hours per day
I prepared my rough guidelines over a few days, and figure I've got 11 days to cover the roughly 330 pages in the book - that's 30 pages per day. Yesterday I did all of section one.
Before editing, it was 34 pages and 18,028 words. After editing: 32 pages, 16,219 words. Took me about two and a half hours to do.
There'll be a lot to do after editing is finished, but I'll have a cohesive, proofable book that I wouldn't blush at selling someone a copy. Just deciding to get it done, being accountable to two close friends, and now making a public commitment - it'll be pretty much done on August 25th. A little scary, but very exciting.
Do you have anything 90% done? What would happen if you made a firm commitment to another person? A public commitment? What if you asked, "How could I get this done?" I bet you could it. I'm doing it. It feels good, exciting. A little scary, but good. What would it take for you to complete one of your projects?
On 16 August, I wrote, "Why Isn't My Book Done?" I committed to editing it and having it edited by August 25th.
August 25th: -Proofable -Cohesive -Able to sell the book without blushing
I set these goals with a friend of mine who is also a writer - it was a pretty ambitious goal, because I finished the rough draft back in February, and not much has happened in the six months since then. Now, I was going to get it to the point where my work is proofable and cohesive in just two weeks?
And yet, it's done. Actually, I'd still blush a little if I went to sell a copy, since I should clean up the formatting, add a title page, things like that. But content wise it's solid enough that I'd take a USD $20 note from someone and hand them a copy bound in hardcover, and I'd feel they got a really good deal.
If I hadn't set this goal and been accountable publicly, to my friend and to everyone who reads here, I wouldn't have done it in two weeks. Honestly - I'm pretty internally motivated, but I've had a lot of stuff going on the last two weeks, it wouldn't have happened. But it did happen, largely because I was publicly accountable.
So, I thought I might share a little bit of the visual art I've done in the past. These days, my work is far more centered around music, but I've always also considered myself a visual artist. I've done art exhibits and used to spend a great deal of time drawing several years ago. Nowadays, I incorporate a lot of my visual art experience in my promo materials and website (which I am currently redesigning by the way). I've always loved art and intrigued by the innumerable ways that space can be utilized and occupied. A blank canvas is so FULL of possibility. I recently put up some of my old artwork on my walls in my room, and here are some photos for your eyes to feast on . . . A few years ago at a conference, I was asked to be creative with my name badge, and this is what I came up with. I've kept this ever since. This drawing of a heart is a doodle that is an rough draft of a piece I hope to some day do in the future. It is just a fraction of the concept that I have in mind. This was one of a series of abstract faces that I drew a while back. He actually has a female counterpart that I donated to a charity auction. She sits quietly back in Charlotte, NC in the living room of the young man who submitted the winning bid. You might notice a similarity to the piece that wound up being my album cover for "Seahorses". This was a rough sketch for a later, much bigger piece that I was envisioning. Though I'm certain it was the sun I was drawing, I can't seem to remember what I was going for on the whole. The band Counting Crows' debut album "August and Everything After" is one of my all-time favorite albums. This was my rendering of the album cover, and I think I got it pretty darn close. For a coffeehouse show I did back in March, I did the artwork for the promo poster. This bizarre one turned out pretty well. I wanted to go bright and bold with this poster and give it a handmade feel. This was for my Cafe Coco show last October. I'm not even sure what kind of flowers those are supposed to be, but this one was a lot of fun to create. Back in 2003, I did a HUGE art installation. A photographer friend of mine named Chris Hafner took photos of various subjects for me. I, in turn, transformed them into what I call "kaleidoscopic collages" intertwined with poetry. This was one of the resulting works. It currently hangs in my bedroom for me to enjoy every day. I've been itching to do more drawing and sketching lately, and I have some ideas I want to sketch out. Maybe someday I'll do another art exhibit. In any case, I just wanted to share, and I'll share more soon. What's in your space? -gordon