I have a title. I’ve got a first draft (sort of; more on that in a moment).
Lunatics and Liquid Art: Beer in the United States, 1970-2016. A Short History.
Yeah, okay. A mouthful. But the “book”* will only be available digitally, so it’s crucial to give up as much information as possible on the screen in front of their faces.
I had written what amounted to a solid first draft — and realized, suddenly, out of nowhere, that I’d completely missed the relevant historical “story.” (1) I thought I was writing X. Instead, I’m writing K.
So it was that two weeks ago, I started over. More or less. I don’t have to dump the thousands of words I’d written. I just need to re-cast them, move them around, and then add more words.
The only problem is that old devil Time. Of which, this summer, I am lacking. When I began this project in October, I aimed to publish the piece on October 4, which is roughly the tenth anniversary of publication of Ambitious Brew.
And by “publish,” I mean a document that is written, solid, tight, copy-edited, proof-read. By “publish” I also mean there’s a cover design (that’s being worked on now) and a “press release.” To say nothing of the publishing part: I’ve never self-published. I gotta learn all that, too.
Why no time? When I began this last October, I didn’t know that I would be spending the summer taking care of a 7-year-old.
And the other thing I didn’t know, having never raised kids or taken care of one for more than 48 hours (I’m not kidding), is that I’d be lucky to have time to pee and whatever time he didn’t demand I would need for sleeping.
How ANYONE can raise more than one kid is beyond me. How ANYONE can raise a kid and hold a job is unimagineable. And how any human can raise more than one kid at a time — well, that, in my opinion, is the great mystery of life.
Anyway: Just about the time my brain informed me I was missing the point, I also realized that there’s no way this thing’s gonna be finished and out the door by October 4th or thereabouts. Not when I’m lucky if I can work two hours a day. I need more like six to eight in order to finish by October.
At first I was all like “Oh, my god, I’m a failure. I can’t write fast enough. I can't manage deadlines.” Blah, blah, blah.
And then I thought: “Nah.” Perspective is everything.
At my age, at this stage of my life, I'm no longer willing to play my usual role -- stressed-out deadline chaser --- during what is otherwise a summer of glory and delight: The King, here for a month! Twenty-four seven! Hurling himself into my arms. Regaling me with dragon tales for hours on end. Sliding together down the fast tunnel at the pool, legs-by-chest in a two-person floating thingie.
Moreover, starting next week, our household will expand significantly thanks to a series of visitors (nearly all of whom will be here at the same time): His ma and pa (who are of humble, non-royal birth). An aunt and uncle (the short ones). Four dear friends.
So: Thanks but no thanks. I decline, respectfully, to give my all to deadline. I’ve been on deadline for thirty years. I want off. It ain’t called deadline for nuthin’, ya know?
November 2nd, it is. And, yes, as soon as the cover design is ready, I shall present it to you. And, yes, as soon as I have all these bits and pieces taken care of, I will list the “book” for pre-order.
See you soon.
* Honest to god: I have no idea what to call this. It’s not a “book” in the sense that it’s a) a physical object; and b) runs more roughly 75,000+ words. It’s not an essay, exactly — it’s got chapters. But it will likely only run 20,000 words or thereabouts. (For comparison, the meat book was 110,000 and the beer book just at 100,000.) So I dunno, people. Book? E-ssay? No clue.
1. The “suddenly, out of nowhere” part is an accurate description of how stuff gets written and, more to the point, how our brains work: In this case, this historian doesn’t know “the story” until she’s deep into it. When I arrive at the deep-into-it moment, that creature I call Deep Drain simply takes over and begins the process of telling me what the fuck it is I’m doing. What story I’m telling. That’s when this historian is wide enough to shut up and get out of Deep Brain’sway.