Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Organizing a Book by the Calendar

In November, I read a book, Jana Riess’ Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, that was organized by the calendar year.  Each chapter presented the author attempting to do a spiritual practice for a month (go to this posting for a complete review of this book).  The book is structured in much the same way as Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

One of the curses of being a writer is that I'm rarely fully lost in my reading.  Some part of my brain is always thinking, hmm, I could do that.  Hmm, I like this structure, I hate that aspect, I could do that in my own writing.  I really like books organized by a calendar year, whether it be the chronological calendar or a liturgical calendar or a lunar calendar.

As I read the book, I thought about blogging, and about how I love that blogging is a chronicle of daily life and seasonal life, and occasionally big national events poke through, and sometime/occasionally/often historical events make an appearance.  Blogging is an emerging art form, and I often wish I could see 100 or so years in the future to see what scholars make of blogging's early years.  I find it intriguing that reading a blog, especially when I go back through the archives, is like reading an autobiography or a journal.  And yet, it can be interactive, depending on the blogger.

If I was that future scholar, I'd also be looking for the ways that blog posts get repurposed, recycled, repackaged--much the way that we look at Dorothy Wordsworth's journals for insights as to how original ideas become the poems of Wordsworth and Coleridge (most famously, in the daffodil incident, which I wrote about here). 

And of course, in this era of eBooks, I've been looking at my own blog postings and thinking about future blog postings, wondering about creating an eBook as I go along.

I've toyed with the idea of launching a new series on this blog with an eye to an eBook.  I've long thought of a book of writing prompts that took the same prompt and repurposed it for various types of creative writing and the kind of expository writing that a first year Composition student would do, with a research component for more advanced expository writing.  Lately, as I've done more with photographs, I've thought that a photograph that starts the prompt could be useful.

My spouse said, "Who would your audience for the book be?"

I said, "Anyone who teaches on any level."  Those of us who have been teaching for years have a stable of tried and true exercises, but there are plenty of people who are newer to teaching who would like the resource.

I could also see that writers might like a book of prompts.  And it would make a great gift.

I also like the idea of organizing a book of prompts by the calendar.  I think that approach would be more appealing than prompt after prompt after prompt, bound together by nothing more than the fact that they're writing prompts.

So, I may play with this idea in the new year:  a prompt on Monday and a prompt on Friday--by the end of the year, I've got 100 + prompts and a possible eBook!

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