Friday, December 30, 2016

Just Write

It has been a weird year. Sure, for all the usual reasons—a contentious election, the loss of many wonderful people, Brexit, senseless shootings, and on and on—but it's also been a weird year for me and my family. I don't need to go into all the personal details, but one of the weirdest things about this year is something I rarely mention on this blog: the publication of The Earth Is Not Flat and the aftermath of its release.

Now, before you click away thinking "Oh no, not this flat-Earth garbage again," let me assure you that I'm not going to start a rant here about the flat-Earth. This entry is about writing and how unexpected things influence that process.

When I published the book in February, I had done perhaps eight months of research, and I thought I had a pretty good handle on the subject. I figured I would put the book out, do some promotion to let people know about it, and move on. So I released the book, set up a Twitter account, and started posting promotional tweets, and made a few comments here and there.

And in a short while, I'd discovered something unexpected: that I'd written the wrong book. Not that I think that the book I wrote is bad, but there is more to the story than I realized. You see, when I was doing my early research, I was just "some guy" who the flat-Earthers were trying to convince of the "truth." But after the publication of the book, I was "that guy" who wrote the book proclaiming the whole flat-Earth "movement" to be nonsense, and all of a sudden I saw a different side to the flat-Earth followers with much broader implications concerning scientific literacy, media skepticism, and the ease in the Internet age of spreading patent nonsense.

So, to jump ahead before this post becomes a book, I'm re-writing the book. It's not my first priority. After all, I already have a flat-Earth book out there, it's selling okay, and the blog that goes with it gets an astounding (considering how little promotion I do) 11K hits a month, something I'd rather see happening to, say, my songs on SoundCloud. But I have other projects that I want to finish first.

And that's what I was trying to do last night, when I sat down for a late writing session after spending the day preparing for an impending storm. I sat at the computer, the notes for the revised outline of my juvenile mystery story in front of me, and I started to play with it. And I couldn't get anywhere.

Now, my rule for writing sessions is "just write." Write garbage if you have to, or if you can't do that (and I generally try to avoid it when outlining), write something else. And the something else that popped into my head was the new version of The Earth Is Not Flat. Good grief. But the new book is now about 1500 words richer, and the mystery is being, well, mysterious. But it's better than not writing at all.

Still, there are times when I wish I had never head of the flat Earth. I think I might have another book out there, and several more songs, But sometimes there are things that can't quite let you go, things that intrigue you or make you mad or make you want to scream "stop!"

But maybe when the new version is done, I'll be able to leave it behind and get on with everything else. Meanwhile, when I'm stuck, I'll still follow my own rule and "just write."