Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nonacademic books I'd like to write

While working endlessly on this book, I keep fantasizing about the books I would write if I weren't, you know, writing a book.

When I'm struggling with a paragraph ("The subject of this is WHAT? The point of this is WHAT? It's necessary because WHY?"), my brain whispers to me about them.

"If you wrote a biography," it begins, knowing that I like to read them, "you would already have an idea about the structure.  You could spend all your time in an archive. People would line up to buy it, unless, of course, you insist on writing about an obscure author."

"Or," it continues, "you could write one of those books that are about how meaningful it is to read a book and how much it meant to you, like those books about Jane Austen and Middlemarch and Laura Ingalls Wilder. You read. You have opinions, God knows, and a life that has been influenced by books. Why wouldn't people line up to buy your opinions? They buy everyone else's, and maybe you could be charming and funny enough to gain a readership."

Now the brain is really settling into the topic. "Why not a book of academic advice?" it continues.  "Your credentials are about like those of the other academics who give advice, and if you can learn to be more dogmatic, people will listen."

"Or maybe a novel? It might not sell, because you wouldn't want to write about vampires or zombies or space aliens or spies or mysteries or being an academic who can afford to live in Tuscany, but if there's an audience out there for novels where the conflict centers on meting out justice to rude people (hello, Jane Austen fans!), you could write one of those."

"Brain," I say, "shut up. If it were that easy, I would have done it already. And anyway, part of the appeal would be that this would sell."

The brain looks at me, injured.  "Fine," it snaps. "If all you care about is fame and fortune, then you can sell out and see if I care. Go write The 365-Day Cat Golfing Calendar . I'm sure people would line up to buy it," the brain ends with a sneer.

"And if you don't get back to work," it continues, "I'll wake you up at 4 tomorrow morning again so that you can fret for an hour before you get up."

[Edited to add: Wordpress has decided to hate me once again, so WP bloggers, I can't comment on your blogs right now--sorry. I've tried a couple of times at nicoleandmaggie's, etc., but the goddess of WP is implacable right now.]


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I am VERY familiar with this brain-versus-me conversation. Sigh. Good luck.

Nathan Burroughs said...

I can't decide whether to laugh or to gasp in familiarity.

undine said...

Fie--glad it's not just me.
Nathan--I hope you did both!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! We were wondering why you hadn't been around.

It did that to first gen american too. She tried commenting with a different email address and that seemed to work. You can also email us the comment (grumpyrumblings gmail) and we can post it for you. :(