Friday, June 13, 2014

Follow Me As I Write a Book About the American Bible Society

Current ABS Headquarters--1865 Broadway, New York City
Earlier this year I locked myself in a hotel room for three days in order to churn out a 30,000 word consulting report for what I was calling The James Caldwell Project. In order to keep myself motivated and accountable I shared what I was doing here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, Facebook, and on Twitter (@johnfea1--follow me).  Some people thought I was crazy for binge writing in this way.  They were probably correct.  It was unhealthy and not particularly fun, but I needed to meet a deadline and I had procrastinated long enough.

At the time I checked into the hotel (or the "undisclosed location" as I described it) I was in a real writing funk.  I just could not get started on this project and I was doubtful that my weekend writing binge would be successful.  I thought that sharing what I was doing online through my social media outlets would help me stay accountable during the weekend.  Soon people were sharing my updates and cheering me on.  I found this a useful motivational tool, not unlike the dozens of writers on Facebook who regularly participate in the GraftonLine Challenge

Over the course of the next year I have another writing challenge before me.  As some of you know, I have agreed to write a history of the American Bible Society (ABS).  The ABS is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2016 and I am working with the organization to produce a volume.  As I wrote in a previous post, I have complete academic freedom to write the book the way I want to write it and the ABS is not paying me to do the project.  I also get to pick the publisher (which means that I have to find one who will want to publish the book).  Here's the catch: in exchange for some research help and full access to the ABS library and library staff, I have promised to have the book in print by the
bicentennial celebration in May 2016.  This means that I have just about one year (probably a little less) to write the book in order to get it into press (with a yet to be determined publisher) in time for a May 2016 release.  (If you are an acquisitions editor who might be interested in this book I obviously would like to hear from you  If not, you will probably be hearing from me very soon!)

I am probably crazy for taking this on, but I need a challenge in my life right now.  Moreover, I think this is a great opportunity to write about an organization that has had a profound impact on American religious life.

So in order to keep me on track and accountable, I have decided to write a daily post (except Sunday and blog vacations) on my research and writing progress throughout the year.  I think this self-imposed requirement will be a great motivator.

I also hope that my journey might prove to be educational for the readers of this blog.  I will try to cover all aspects of the book process--from research to writing to landing a publisher (let's hope!), to bringing the book to press.  Stay tuned--I think it's going to be a wild ride.

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