How Many Essays Became a Book
People have been asking me, “How did you end up writing a book?” Like a number of insane people, I have always wanted to write a book. Since I was a kid, walking into a library or a bookstore always sent a little electrical shot down my spine. First, excitement then a soft blanket of calm. I would look up at the stacks and think, “I want to do that.”
Most directly, it was my essay site, Noclock.org, that told me that I could write a book. The rules I set for my essays are simple:
· Grab an idea. (Showers, movie theaers and gardening seem to wake the muse.)
· Let my subconscious work on it for a while.
· Write it fast in one sitting (somehow about 1,000 words always feels right).
· Do one pass of editing. I want the most direct connection to my original words, flaws be damned.
· Find a piece of art and publish.
From the moment I sit down to write, it generally takes about 90 minutes beginning to end.
About a year into my essay writing experiment, I realized I had written almost 50,000 words across 40 essays. A real book can land in about 50,000 words. Damn, I thought, that’s a book. Accidentally, just for the joy of writing, I had written enough words to be a book. Suddenly, the impossible seemed reasonable. And isn’t that how many of the most important things in life work? We stare up at the hill and shake our heads in defeat only to one day find ourselves standing on the hill.
I am proud of my first book. I have had heartfelt and touching feedback from readers. But the truth is that my memoir would not exist except for this little essay site and my reader’s patience and curiosity as I bounce from subject to subject, sometimes making solid contact and other times whiffing at the ball. So, I will continue to toss out essays for your enjoyment and annoyance.