Genius loci

Book Proposals and Daily Photography Journaling

1 April 2024

Kodak H35N Dipytch Jeremy Bassetti
Kodak H35N Dipytch

These last few weeks with a newborn have been both rewarding and challenging. Yet I’m committed to keeping the creative fire alive. I’ve taken up a few projects to ensure there is at least a trickle of creativity charging my spirits.

The first project is a daily photo journal using a half frame film camera. I shoot at least two photos a day, sometimes more. As I develop and scan the rolls, I see “boring” domestic scenes come into view — pictures of our daily walks, shadows, the morning light filtering through trees, yet another photo of the baby. These seem ho-hum now, but in a few years I suspect they will take on a special significance, perhaps as artifacts of simpler and innocent times. To me at least.

Kodak H35N Dipytch

The second one is a book proposal. Yes, I’m finally working on the book proposal for my mountain project. The process of writing a book proposal has been helpful in several ways. My mountain project has been a sprawling mass of an idea, something that I was hesitant to work on because it was so big. But writing a proposal helps puts edges on an idea, it sets boundaries, it crystalizes abstract ideas. It gives a shape, a form or a structure to something that existed only in the mind. To write a book proposal is to talk — or type — through things. It is to consider the market, the feasibility of a project from the perspective of an agent or a publisher.

Writing a proposal is also difficult, for it forces you to confront your own uncertainties and deficiencies. It is to confront your hesitations, your anxieties and insecurities. It is to take your ideas and goals seriously; it is an attempt to get your shit together.

If you’ve written a book proposal, please send me good vibes (and practical tips/advice, if you have any).

Don’t miss the interesting links right after the ad below.


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My work

I wrote a blog post about V. S. Naipaul’s Advice on Writing, gleaned from his book The Enigma of Arrival.

I wrote two exploratory blog posts related to my mountains project. One was about “manufactured mountains,” and the other about the Hindu temple as a mountain.

I am journaling about the book proposal process on my Creator’s Log. Here is one post about the steps involved.

From around the web

The 2024 Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year winner was announced. Congrats to all the nominees.

Nicholas Shakespeare discusses his new biography of Ian Fleming on the Always Take Notes podcast. He also touches on Peter Fleming and Bruce Chatwin.

National Geographic Photographer John Stanmeyer on the Power of “I Don’t Know”

Ryan Murdock speaks with Alex Kerr about Japan and Justin Marozzi about Tamerlane and Samarkand on the Personal Landscapes podcast.

Andrew McCarthy appears on Deviate with Rolf Potts and speaks about how to tell travel stories.

Rory Stewart speaks with Sam Harris twice. The first conversation is about the fraying world order. The second conversation was a tiresome debate about religion, but it was born from Rory’s self-serving mischaracterization of the first conversation.