Author Big Year: More lightning bolts to the soul from Nuke Your Darlings

“This weekend was crazy busy, again,” blogs Van Jackson on drafting his terrific history. It’s March 19, eight months ago! “71,000 words… The good news is that I’ll definitely have my 80,000 words by the June 1 deadline.” A TV interview the next day leaves him in “fast-brain mode on steroids,” and puzzling about Trump means he has “trouble defending my writing time today.” I fall in love with Van Jackson when, on March 22, he says “The Great Gatsby” taught him to “transform myself through discipline and routine.” (Isn’t that what my Big Decade is?) The next day, John Bolton (“Deep breath,” Jackson tells himself) is annointed by Trump as his National Security Adviser. A week later in the thick of a conference, he is stunned to hear Kim Jong Un has visited China: “… quite possibly my most unproductive day yet.” At the start of April, “cramped, dehydrated, jet lagged, and exhausted” at a San Francisco conference, he blogs, to my amazement, about what advice he gives to students thinking about doing a PhD!

A complete change of tack the next day, when with a friend:

What made us so close was our unconventional approach to the job, and to life. We both have a strange conviction that you can sort of create your own reality. Not so much in a Trumpian “fake news” sense, but in a Gatsby-ian sense. We’ve both gone about it in our own ways, but it’s what brought us to work on strategy in the first place. Both of us are prone to try big, hairy, audacious things, and both of us pay virtually no attention to the odds stacked against us when we do.

Today I’ve only covered a couple of weeks in the Van Jackson saga. Why am I spending so much time on it when I should be writing my own book? Because so few writers talk to me as me right now, doing what I’m doing, and this guy does. That para above moves me grandly because, like Jackson, I believe a decade and a half of work on the nuclear book is not wasted and will blossom.

I can take no more emotion right now.

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