I am going to write a book. Of course a few details are a bit obscure. Fiction? Non-Fiction? Shall I write about whales? What about a man and a whale? Perhaps I will write about my exciting career. Yes, maybe. I could call it “Death of a Salesman,” but that seems to pessimistic and familiar. Hasn’t it been done?
And I don’t know how long my book will be, but I suppose that’s the way most good books begin, especially books written by first-timers. So I’ll just set a deadline. It is an election year so let’s say I have a working draft complete by election day, five months from now. We will see what we have then. Perhaps my “book” will be a mere 15 pages long. We’ll see.
Today feels like a good day to start a book anyway…or to at least start planning to start a book. Today marks the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. If I don’t start my book, it is very difficult to find any other cosmic significance in that event. Rare solar-planetary events deserve some sort of significant context. Seeing none with Venus today, I shall grant it some significance.
(It is important to note, however, that the transit of Venus is the event that first gave astronomers an opportunity to measure the real distance between the Earth and the Sun. I’m not sure how they did it, but I think Edmund Halley, of Halley’s Comet fame, got the first accurate calculations down. Don’t quote me on that. I might be wrong, however I don’t have time to look up no silly facts right now.)
Other than giving the Transit of Venus some significance, the only other certainty is my patron. I shall need a patron. There should be nothing arbitrary about this, nothing whatsoever. We have five months. A nice even number. I think an equally even $500,000 should sufficiently match my blossoming talent. Being that this might be a somewhat quixotic literary crusade, I’ll knock off 10% and find a way to make $450,000 work.
So let’s get to work! What shall I do next?
(NB: It looks like my recollection of astronomy lessons is a bit flawed. Some character named Simon Newcomb — I will be sure to find him space on my dedication page — first calculated the distance between the Earth and the Sun using the Transit of Venus to verify his data. God, not even five minutes into my venture and I am already stumbling over mistakes. Best stay to fiction. Perhaps a drama. When was the last time you read a good tragedy?)
- Evening Star’s rare path across the sun (newscientist.com)
- Transit of Venus Offers Last-Chance Views (livescience.com)
- Everything you need to know about next week’s Transit of Venus (blogs.discovermagazine.com)