Thursday, 4 March 2010

A note on unwritten books

When life becomes a thicket of writing deadlines and commitments, I tend to escape into daydreams about the books that I would like to write one day. Just as a married person might dream of an affair, so writers find solace from their immediate duties by indulging in the subversive fantasy of other writing projects. (And the irony is equally cruel in both cases: as the mistress is destined to become another wife, so the fantasised writing project will be satisfied only when – triumphantly – it becomes merely another deadline.)

So anyway, here are a few of the books that I've been dreaming of writing:

  • An extended essay on the ethics of friendship. (I've been planning this one for quite some time, and I'm hoping to start writing it by the end of the year.)
  • A book on prayer, where each chapter is a meditation on one of George Herbert's poems. (If I'm ever asked to give a series of talks on prayer, I'll use that as my opportunity.)
  • A book on Melville's Moby Dick as the great anti-theodicy, Nature's shattering reply to Paradise Lost. (Frankly, it baffles me that more theologians have not written on Moby Dick – though Catherine Keller is an outstanding exception.)
Of course, these are not the only writing projects ruminating in my mischievous head. But some fantasies – again marriage is the analogy – are best kept secret.

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