Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Screwtape and the making of a book

The weekend before Thanksgiving I completed work on a book manuscript. I deliberately requested a deadline of November 19 to avoid having the project run into the holidays. I say "completed" even though I know there will be a lot of editing on the manuscript in the months to come. The working title of the book is The Screwtape Handbook. This will be, to my knowledge, the first in-depth commentary and reader's guide to the classic C.S. Lewis book The Screwtape Letters, first published in book form in 1942. In the manuscript I offer a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on the 31 letters, material on the front matter (dedication, 1941 preface, 1960 preface, etc.), an assessment of the theology and ethics of Lewis, and more

I've vowed to take a break on my book writing for awhile because the process is extremely time-consuming and, at least in my case, writing a book tends to infiltrate every aspect of my life. I think most people underestimate the arduous nature of getting a book to print. Even though I just finished the manuscript (65,000 words and 237 pages), there's still a lot left to do. So in a sense it is finished and not finished. In a few months I'll get comments back from the publisher, then I'll have to review and revise. Beyond the editorial phase there will be marketing work planned behind the scenes, cover designs, title options, etc.

At any rate, despite the time and effort involved on my part, I'm always excited to see a book I've written get to print. There's something about physically holding a book in my hands that I know I've spent a lot of time working on that's just exciting.

Keep an eye out for The Screwtape Handbook late in 2008. A movie based on The Screwtape Letters is supposedly in the works, so we'll see how that turns out as well.

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