(If I haven’t #humblebragged to you about it already, here’s some data: I’m writing a book on Phish’s A Live One for Bloomsbury’s 33-1/3 series. It’s due out in October 2015.)
I got the manuscript back from the editor and her Filthy Assistant this week, and have come to an interesting stage in the project. I submitted my pitch during the open call more than a year ago, and thought about it almost nonstop from the moment they got back to me (late spring?) until I submitted the manuscript about a month ago. That’s a long time to live with a set of ideas — especially long when you have little sense of how good (or the other thing) the ideas are.
A handful of folks read some/much/all of the manuscript. Their feedback was essential, priceless, and their reward awaits them in heaven.
By the turn of the year I had gone a bit mad.
For the last month, with the manuscript on her (virtual) desk, I’ve been able to fully relax for the first time in ages: finally putting our gym membership to good use, getting back on the bike that has been shown to be essential to my happiness, and being a much more agreeable father, husband, and friend. My dad came to town; we only had the one ‘how did these two human beings ever get along?’ fight, so that was a decent visit.
Decompressing. I didn’t realize how much I’d needed it.
Then the manuscript came back, and I got the shock of my year: it’s pretty good. Or at least my editor thinks it’s pretty good, which I hadn’t doubted so much as simply dismissed as impossible. How could this book possibly make any sense? Hard as I’ve worked on it, it represents a year of obsessing over the musical love of my life, a topic I have a hard enough time making sense of when I’m in peak form, never mind staring at an outline for six months wondering where the idea to include a whole section about the Church of the SubGenius came from…
But she seems pleased.
I must say, I was genuinely surprised. I’m getting over it.
The interesting part of the project, though, is this: now I get to spend one month punching up the manuscript in a state of emotional equilibrium, something literally unimaginable to me until this week. I can never be dispassionate about it — this is my dream writing assignment — but having taken my mind off the hook for a month, making notes and outlines for the next few projects, I now get to come back to the Phish book, the albatross, as if it were just a piece of writing and not (y’know) the final revelation of my dilettantism and fraudulence.
So that’s the project for the next few weeks: implement the editor’s changes (sample: ‘your one hundred godsdamned footnotes should be moved into the main text, you pretentious DFW-aping hack’) and write a gigantic STET next to the Filthy Assistant’s suggestion that ‘freeform,’ which is a beautiful word, should probably be ‘free-form,’ which is the ten billionth hyphenate in the manuscript and that’s two billion too many.
I’ve got some essays in the works but they’re now officially on the back burner again.
There will be much to talk about in a month or so.
Love to you and yours,