I am at work on my book proposal, specifically the part with short summaries for each chapter. I kind of pride myself on being able to communicate ideas in as few words or examples as possible. That’s one thing for teaching a class, or writing a 20-minute conference paper, or a 1500-word book review, or a tweet. It’s another thing to condense the massive Great Work For The Ages that I have been tending now for all these years. That thing started well over 250,000 words, has been cut down to a not-too-slim 150,000, and now it has to get stuffed into a series of 30 short paragraphs? That’s nuts. It’s awful. I hate it.
BUT it’s also a great exercise, painful as it is. It’s the literary equivalent of those identical nesting Russian dolls: same thing, over and over, smaller and smaller. I’m finding that as I try to winnow my 5,000-word chapters into just a few sentences, the stuff that is really truly important rises to the top, which is going to have the great advantage of helping me slash the main text, once again, as I try to reduce it to be even briefer, tighter, generally more awesome.