Something is moving in the snow-dappled bushes outside my office window. I know it’s there, because I glimpsed movement — but I can’t see any clear shape:
To me, this is what the core idea of a new book looks like, when you’re sitting in front of an empty page (or computer screen), eyes closed, trying to grasp it with your mind’s fingers.
If you focus your brain too clearly, the motion frightens the thought away, and it dashes off into the woods. But when it’s this well camouflaged among the snow and branches of your mind’s landscape, you can’t really see it clearly enough to put it into words . . . so you have to focus. But you daren’t startle the thing off, so you focus — ever, so, carefully …
I just spent a week doing this. Finished The Secret Language of Money last week (it’s coming out in August), and then plunged into the indistinct underbrush of a brand new book project, and had to get it clear enough on paper to show to a publisher in New York — all in five days. It took all day Sunday, but I finally managed to get the focus clear enough to see its outline — without making any fast moves that would cause it to leap up and scamper completely out of sight.
This one’s a secret still, alas, so I can’t let on its subject — but it’s going to be a very exciting project indeed, and I’ll whisper it here as soon as I’m able.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep peeking through the window to see what other shapes might be nibbling on the leaves out there.