Author Big Year: We all need to dream and big

Concluding Van Jackson’s “Nuke Your Darlings” blog about writing a history book… “Well, I missed yesterday’s entry,” writes Jackson (Entry 79 of 92) on April 6, 2018. “I’m an exhausted bag of bones by evening time.” On the return flight, his blog reveals that he sees life as “a collection of habits interspersed with 8-Mile moments,” that phrase denoting Eminem’s movie, especially his key soundtrack song, “Lose Yourself.” (Not your stereotypical academic, eh?)

From this nadir blooms resurgence. “These final chapters are flowing,” he writes on Apr 11. In Wellington, he decides to climax the book with the upcoming Trump-Kim summit, scrambling at the last moment to wrap that into his narrative and analysis. How bold! Each April day now delivers draft slabs even while the North Korea situation explodes with rumor and news that leave him “mentally and emotionally exhausted.” In late April, jettisoning all his other mandatory commitments, “I wrote like a man possessed this weekend – more than 3,000 words [wow!].” On Apr 25, getting set to conclude drafting, he diverts to blog how he organises his day, 31 planned time segments from 5 AM to 9 PM – I know, he sounds over prescriptive, but guess what: I’m like that!

Apr 27: “700 words closer to finishing today but still not quite there.” And then we’re there, Entry 92 on April 30:

First draft complete!… It’s bittersweet, but now that I have a full draft in hand, I intend for this to be my final Nuke Your Darlings entry. As of now I have 93,000 words, which is more than the limit I agreed to in the publishing contract. I just need to pare it down as I revise. I skimmed through most of the chapters today and really like what I’ve produced. I’m kind of amazed that I did this. Hopefully readers will enjoy the final product!… These daily entries have also helped me reflect on how I write… The biggest surprise benefit of this diary is how it’s seemingly affected others.”

Well, I’m one off those affected. To hold a dream in the face of an uncaring universe is tough but wonderful.


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