Um. Fast forward to April 21, 2013. Oops. What happened to my “21 Days to a Completed Book Proposal” drive and purpose? Whence my motivation (except I don’t want “whence,” I guess I want “whereto.”

Turns out there are myriad other activities that I find to fill up my time BEFORE I ever get around to writing, which is rather inimical to my hopes and dreams and all. It’s a Quadrant III problem–important but not urgent. Or is it Quadrant IV? Seems like maybe we should dispense with the quadrant numbers and either call them by their combo-reference (urgent/important, not urgent/not important, urgent/not important) or come up with more memorable names for them than “Quadrant I” and so forth.

Now the above paragraph contains of course (as most paragraphs do that pass through my keyboard as the muse impels my fingers  to type out Deathless Prose) great insight and wisdom but it’s not really ON TASK. As my former boyfriend/current friend Chad is always reminding me, “You need to FOCUS!”

So I’ve been to 29 “churches” now, though one was a synagogue (the Jewish woman I interviewed for this visit kept correcting me when I said “church”–I should include a paragraph or two on the why and wherefore of that semantic nicety), so really, I’m just about plugged in. Though there are some significant gaps in my attendance–no mosque yet, no Hindu temple, no Seventh-day Adventist experience, no yoga interview, no AA meeting visit (not a church, I realize, but for some reason I want to attend one and interview somebody. Really this “writing a book” blah-blah-blah is just a ruse to cover up my essential busybody nature.).

Yep, I a little bit completely missed my “21 Days to Write a Book Proposal” mark, but I’m still inside 21 MONTHS (well past 21 weeks I fear) from inauguration of my effort. So. That’s good, right?

Really, what does self-flagellation profit me? I’m not sure. I must think it’s good to do, because I certainly do it regularly. Daily. Many times daily? I almost wish that I drew blood from myself every time I self-flagellated, or that it bruised me or at least hurt like hell physically, because probably then I’d stop. When the only part of me to take a beating is my spirit, my psyche, my self-concept, well, that sucker is amorphous and invisible and consequently any bruises it receives are inconsequential and deniable. Which is ironic because (and I believe this wholly) what I believe about my own capacity to achieve has a larger impact on my actual capacity to achieve than any other single factor. Hang on a minute–was that sentence difficult to understand? What? A pre-post-publication edit (“pre-post?” oxymoron? I mean “an edit before I publish this post”)? I don’t think so. To test for readability? Not this cowboy. It’s 11 p.m. and I need to shuffle off to the Land of Nod, if you get me.)

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With apologies to Monty Python…. so I’ve been embroiled in trying to get Artisteer blog theme software to work (still haven’t figured it out, as you can see from my completely bland colorless photo-free pathetic excuse for a blog).

BUT I have not given up. In fact tonight my brother Gary and I had a long talk with a Messianic Jew that I’ll be interviewing for the book officially on Tuesday afternoon, and the conversation was perhaps pivotal. Or at least interesting. Gary said tonight that even if no one ever reads my book, the project has been worth doing. I’ve been struggling to figure out what my purpose is, what my hook is, and who my audience is–these are things I must establish for my book proposal. I still don’t know the answers to the questions, but Gary’s observation sorta reduces the pressure on me. I think I’ll be best able to write the darn proposal if I can clearly picture the audience for the book proposal–I’m thinking I’ll address it to Shari Caudron in my mind. I seem to get energy and motivation and clarity/humor when I mentally target an audience before/while I write.

 

A Month of Sundays will be the title. There has to be a subtitle, too, though, I’m thinking, and that one I’m less sure of.

How about A Month of Sundays: What I saw when I infiltrated the sanctuaries and plumbed the psyches of 30 churches and 30 churchgoers ? Or words to that effect?

How to Write a Book Proposal is a tidily constructed book, with 26 (count ’em) chapters. Handy. So if I’m trying to pull my book proposal together in 20 days (since yesterday was day 1), well, I’ll just make sure I complete a chapter every day and two chapters on six of those days, right? Did I do the math correctly? And what could be easier than that?? There are easier things, I’ll wager.

Today’s topic, my subject hook, is the first page of the proposal, and the first place the agent or editor will decide either to love my idea or dump it in the waste bin. No pressure. For this page, I need to find a statistic….

Okay, I’m choking here before I even get out of the gate. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life website has a lot of nifty statistics, but nothing that seizes my imagination by identifying my logical market. How many millions of religious Americans are curious about the beliefs of other people? Doesn’t look like Pew asked that particular question….

[Some advice here to the future me: Don’t be waiting till 10:30 p.m. to write about, research, and create excellent prose. AND to find support from / with like-minded writing peeps.]

Did I ever mention that I have a love/hate relationship with my laptop and my office chair? Does this apply to other situations in my life, too? When I have a real or imaginary deadline for prose production, I often find myself seized with sleepiness. Here at my desk a few minutes ago I was thus seized when I put my head down to rest on my desk top for a few refreshing minutes. What did that get me? Momentary relief and a big red temporary dent in my forehead.

Ack. 11:51 p.m. NIne minutes to churn out a subject hook? Okay, okay, a quick stab at it:

28% of churchgoing Americans who were raised by their families in one faith have switched to a different affiliation in adulthood. So that means at one point, x million people in America have felt something missing in their spiritual lives and have found another religion. (Ack! 11:55 p.m.) My book, A Month of Sundays: 30 Sabbaths, 30 Churches. (Ack, 11:59 p.m. and all I want to do is SLEEP.)

TO BE CONTINUED….

 

The new habit I’m planning to pick up during the next 21 days will be of writing a daily bitty little blog post on my progress towards writing a book proposal for Month of Sundays. Two birds, one stone. Bird one: Need to establish a blog-writing habit. Bird two: the book proposal itself.

Day 1: picked up How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen from the library. So far (almost FIVE entire pages in!), the book knocks me out–“If you have a salable idea and you prove that you can write it, this book can help you launch your career” and “…this book lays out the fastest, easiest way I know for you to produce a rejection-proof proposal and obtain the best editor, publisher, and deal for your book.”

Oh yeah, I’m rolling, baby.

“The story of my blog’s being ready for prime time are greatly exaggerated.” –Mark Twain, paraphrased.

So this will be the schtick: I’m writing a book, working title A Month of Sundays, a delightful (hey, it’s my book; I’ll call it whatever I want) memoirish ramble through my visits to 30 different churches in quest of …. in quest of …. of TRUTH–or at least truth’s shadow, echo, slime-trail (wait! truth is good! no slime-trail!).

Through this blog, I plan to keep my readers (IF I can snag any) abreast of my progress–dishing up tempting nuggets regarding my visits, fancy photos of sanctuaries, and in an almost entirely non-sequitur-ing way, TOP TEN LISTS….