On writing books

Yesterday I reblogged Graham Harman’s post about his forthcoming Latour book Prince of Nodes (a sequel to Prince of Networks). In that post he reflects on how this means he is contracted to write three books simultaneously.  He suggests that it is a good cure for writer’s block, in that you can turn to another project if you get stuck on one.

I don’t have three books contracted, but I do have substantial bits of three future projects – the one under the working title of Shakespearean Territories; the history of Foucault’s History of Sexuality; and the one that is emerging out of the ashes of the ‘Space of the World’ project, with a reorientation to thinking about world and earth together. Many of my recent talks have been on the first two; most of my forthcoming ones are on the third. While I was at the AAG a very good friend tried to convince me that I should be writing a different book entirely, and I did sketch out a table of contents for that; I began thinking about a kind of sequel to The Birth of Territory; and floated an idea in one of my talks for yet another project that is a much longer term venture. But, for me, these are ideas at different stages of development – some of which have lots of draft material; some of which I aim to piece together from conference presentations and published essays, with a lot of additions and reworking; and some are just ideas for books that would be interesting to research and write.

Graham Harman’s approach clearly works for him, yet for me it will be important, at some point, to commit to one of these and move it forward to completion, with the others very clearly pushed to the background. That doesn’t mean I won’t do anything on the others, and I may give talks that connect to different ones, but there would be a clear moment where one becomes the absolute priority. That would be akin to the way that the project that became The Birth of Territory was put aside in 2002 to write Understanding Henri Lefebvre and then Speaking Against Number, and again in 2007 to write Terror and Territory, before becoming the absolute priority in early 2008 until its completion. This is one of the reasons why The Birth of Territory took so long to complete. While I’ve talked to publishers about a few of the above ideas, I’ve got no contracts at present, and so for a while at least I’m free to move things forward as they feel right and as the ideas come.

But for now, essays and dissertations to mark…

This entry was posted in Books, Michel Foucault, Publishing, Shakespearean Territories, The Birth of Territory, The Space of the World, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On writing books

  1. Juliet Fall says:

    I look forward to reading The Childhood of Territory, followed by The Teenage Years of Territory, Aduldhood, Territory Retires and then the final, and much awaited, Death of Territory. At which point, dear Stuart, you can turn to writing fiction!

    • stuartelden says:

      Yes, very good. I guess that’s an inevitable danger of a title like this. The concluding paragraph touches on this. If I was to write a sequel of sorts it would take a rather different approach, I think, looking at the relation of nationalism and capitalism to territory. But that’s a long way down the notional ‘to do’ list…

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