Ex Die in Diem



It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here.

The intervening time hasn’t been idly spent: I’ve been to four countries I’d never visited before, moved to Cambridge, made new friends, eaten a lot of roast dinners, ushered a wedding, read twelve of Iain Banks’s fiction novels, played a lot of cards against humanity, grown, changed, worn new bow ties, eaten new foods, and last but not least, written a book.

Now this book is not the book I made of my old blog. I made that a long time ago, and I think it’s been read less than half a dozen times. It ends with me pointing out that I wrote at that blog for a year and a day, and feels somehow appropriate to have brought it back in a post that is a year and a day overdue.

So not that old thing: a brand new thing, or as close to that as I think I’m capable of. This is the book that I’ve been meaning to write for the last five years or so, the book that can be home to all the little stories that I told to young people over the years of trying to help them understand their science lessons a bit better. It’s great to have finally got it out of my mind and on to the page, but I was surprised by what happened in the course of that transition.

The idea of a thing is different from the thing itself: that’s the reason that we can believe that we actually understand our world, even though the space outside our minds must necessarily be larger than the space inside. The structure that I had in my mind for the book was complex and sometimes difficult for me to grasp, but compared to the manuscript I now possess it was laughably simple, bland and incomplete. In spilling out of my world and into the one I share with you, it took form and grew and blossomed into a thing that I am genuinely proud of, and which I intend to have rejected by a good number of publishers before I give in and try to distribute it myself.

It’s a long process to get from manuscript to published book, and it was a long process getting from “I should write a book” to actually sitting down to do so, but the bit in between went very quickly indeed: I wrote it as part of NaNoWriMo, so it all happened within thirty days of fevered writing. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that means it took me a month to write a book, or whether it took me five years to write a book. Either way, I hope you’ll read it when the time comes.

This is from the