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March 8, 2010
Welcome to the blog for "The Untitled Joe Sheehan Book," which will presumably have a catchier title at some point. In this space I’ll chronicle the process of writing my first solo book, which should be out just in time for you to enjoy on an off-day during the World Series. The idea for a blog like this is, to some extent, stolen from the great Joe Posnanski, who started The Soul of Baseball blog while he was working on his wonderful biography, with the same name, of Buck O’Neil.
Since we announced "The Untitled Joe Sheehan Book" a month ago, I’ve spent most of my time reading what I’ve written over the past decade for Baseball Prospectus, trying to pare about 1,500 pieces down to a couple dozen for inclusion in the book. Those pieces are going to form the framework of the book, serving as both a "best of" for longtime readers and an introduction for new ones. Make no mistake about it; as much as I want the people who have read BP for years to buy the book, I want to be able to reach beyond that group as well. I want all baseball fans to be able to pick up the book and enjoy it even if they’ve never heard of BP.
The book isn’t going to just be a collection, however. I’m looking for columns—mostly my "Daily Prospectus" and "Prospectus Today" work, but also material under other headers—that serve as launch points for additional discussion. In the same way that this blog borrows from Posnanski, the book itself does from Bill Simmons’ first, Now I Can Die In Peace, which collected Simmons’ writing on his beloved Boston Red Sox in the aftermath of their 2004 championship, and included substantial original material. I doubt I will use the footnotes conceit that Simmons employed, but the idea—to use the old as a springboard for the new—stems from that tome.
Right now, I have a request. If you have enjoyed my work, take a second to think about any pieces that you might like to see in the book. I have created my own list, which I will work with Christina Kahrl to pare down, but I want to know what the readers think should be included. I want to know if I’ve missed something, if perhaps I’ve written something that you want to see expanded upon in this book. This book didn’t even exist as an idea three months ago, and it’s changed in my own mind a half-dozen times since Dave Pease and I first talked about it; I am certain that it can only be better the more feedback I get on the idea, the process and the execution.
That’s what the blog is about: documenting the process of writing this book and using whatever feedback is generated to make it better.
I’m going to be honest here: I’m terrified. There have been days in my career when the idea of writing a thousand words was daunting; I’ve signed on to write 100,000. Writing a book other than the annual—a process I loved, even when it nearly killed me—has never been a priority, despite it being one of the things you’re "supposed" to do as a writer. It took the right idea at the right time to even get me interested, and even with that I feel like I’m free-falling a bit. So I suppose this blog will also document the trepidation, even fear, as well, as I take on this new challenge.
I know that I’ll enjoy it more if you take it with me. Thanks, and let’s get started.