update-o-rama (may contain unseemly chest-beating)

Those who know me and have paid any attention to my mutterings over the past few years may recall rumours of a non-fiction book I was going to write sometime maybe. Some may recall specific vague mutterings about “consciousness, language, belief and the nature of reality, and how they interact” as a general subject area.

A month ago when I announced a refocus and subsequent absence of blogging it was to focus on that book.

Today I finished a rough rough draft of the non-fiction book.

In the past 31 days I have written approximately 65000 words. (There was also an application for post-production funding which ended up being 5000 words, and a total pain, in the mix.) During that time I have taken one day off due to nervous exhaustion/collapse. I’m getting close to that point again, so it is well that I can take a bit of a break.

When I first sketched out the schedule, it seemed pretty unlikely. Somehow it came off. Aided somewhat by my Outward Bound course being cancelled, which allowed me to relax and stretch out the final few days, rather than panic them into a couple of days; but I’ve only gone three days over.

All in all, I’m a little stunned right now. This book is kind of a major long term thing. Like culmination-of-work-and-thought-as-an-adult-so-far territory. (Although, having said that, I now know what my next non-fiction book needs to be.) There was a lot of self-doubt to get over. I mean, really, who the hell am I to write a non-fiction book, to stand up and say what’s real? Especially in what is in essence a book of philosophy dealing with fundamental questions. So sitting down and just cranking a draft out was probably the ideal way to do it. There was no time for second guessing. It’s also quite heartening that the material was there to come out. I think I cited maybe 5% of what I’ve actually read.

Something liberating I realised before writing was that even if everything I wrote could be proved false, that is useful to the process I am engaged in.

Of course, I haven’t read it yet, so maybe it’s gibberish. But the process is the thing. The past few days, writing the concluding chapter, stuff came together in a new way. I developed new insight; no, I expressed insight that I recognised from the words of others in my own language, on my own terms, and understood the truth of what I was saying. The understanding is part of me now.

The word is not the thing. Knowledge is not understanding. You have to do it yourself.

So yeah. At this point it feels like the fundamental argument I am making is sound. The basic structure is right. The book can be made a lot prettier and more coherent, but that is rewriting’s job. I’ve got a fair idea what I need to read up on, and what bits need fleshing out. All in all, it has been a hell of a ride. Intense and ridiculously hardcore, but lots of fun, too. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to do this.

Apologies to anyone I’ve interacted with (or was supposed to interact with) in the last month. I suspect my head has been… elsewhere.

Now I go to bed with cookies and mindless entertainments. I may be some time. Bring me women, wine, grapes, and chocolate.

11 Responses to “update-o-rama (may contain unseemly chest-beating)”

  1.   morgue
    August 5th, 2008 | 7:56 am

    This is quite an incredible feat. Well done.

  2.   Dan
    August 5th, 2008 | 8:04 am

    Nice one.

    That’s why I didn’t see you to pick up your bit of fabric.

    I’m still redrafting my /very/ fiction novel, in very small doses as and when I have time.

    Let me know if you want to swap drafts at some point.

  3.   Scott C
    August 5th, 2008 | 9:56 am

    Congrats Billy – you seem to be going from strength to strength…

  4.   Administrator
    August 5th, 2008 | 11:55 pm

    Cheers all.

    Dan: yup. My need for fabric fell off the radar. I’m happy to read your draft sometime. It will be a while before this non-fiction thing is in any shape for other people to read, and I suspect my ideal early readers will have PhD’s in relevant areas, but there are copies of the novels circulating.

  5.   Scott K
    August 6th, 2008 | 8:27 pm

    That’s fantastic man

  6.   d3vo
    August 6th, 2008 | 9:28 pm

    Dude! I tried with the woman already! Did I not introduce!?

  7.   Administrator
    August 6th, 2008 | 11:34 pm

    d3vo: She introduced herself 😛

  8.   Administrator
    August 7th, 2008 | 3:50 pm

    Cheesecake and pineapple are also acceptable forms of tribute.

  9.   Bruce
    August 11th, 2008 | 8:43 pm

    Huzzah! Congrats on an epic achievement.

  10.   Scott A
    August 14th, 2008 | 11:59 am

    *stunned silence, followed by loud applause*

    Nicely done, sir.

  11.   Sean
    August 16th, 2008 | 12:30 pm

    Applause from me. What a personal milestone, and it sounds like it’s opened up a whole lot of new space for you to explore…