For the last year I’ve been working, first during my day job and more recently in off hours, on an encyclopedia project, the Encyclopedia of the 21st Century.
It’s approximately the craziest thing I’ve ever signed my name to: four volumes, several million words, every one of which will violate a rule of reference publishing so fundamental it’s not written down anywhere, but is burned in the heart of every editor.
Encyclopedias are about things that exist, things that have happened, or things that have been believed. In general, encyclopedias aren’t about things that haven’t yet happened. But this one is.
In a way, while it’s been a great project to think about, and it’s served as terrific cover for writing to interesting people, it’s also seemed a bit abstract. But now, commissioning letter have started going out. It’s an exciting moment in a project: it’s turning real, but we haven’t yet had the big wave of rejections that’s normal in this kind of commissioning, nor am I faced with the hard work of actually reading manuscripts and that kind of thing. I should enjoy it while I can.
[To the tune of Eddie Palmieri, “Verdict On Judge Street,” from the album “Sueño“.]