Why not write a book?

My very first blog post.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. For years, I have considered possible topics, thought about detailed contents, even drafted a first chapter or two. Yet I have never followed through. I’m right there with the millions of people who fantasize about being a great author but never do anything about it. However, unlike most of these people, I actually am an author. Writing is a major part of my job. I have published thousands of pages, mostly in the form of scientific papers. I have written winning grant proposals. I have edited journal articles and conference proceedings. I have even taught university-level classes on how to be a successful writer. Surely, if I seriously wanted to write a book, I could.

So why haven’t I? The simple truth is that I have a short attention span and get bored easily. I would find it quite difficult to stay engaged with a single topic for as long as it would take to write the book. Chances are, I’d write a few chapters and then I’d lose interest. At that point, there’d be two possibilities: (i) I abandon the project. (ii) I push through regardless. Of course, of those two possibilities, only the latter would result in a finished book. And the latter possibility is also the much more unpleasant one. At some point in my life, I may still embark on this book project, but for now I admit defeat. I have yet to find a book idea for which pushing through regardless seems worthwhile.

So here I am. I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing things other than just scientific papers. In my humble opinion, I’m quite good at writing, or at least not entirely terrible. So let’s try this blogging thing. Maybe my short attention span is better matched to blogging than to writing books. I know I can stay focused for long enough to complete one blog post, and maybe even a series of blog posts about the same topic. Who knows, over time I might even collect enough material on this blog that eventually I can collate parts of it into a coherent book of sorts.

So with this post, I open this blog. I make no promises about specific topics I’ll blog about, nor about post frequency or longevity of this project. I might be too lazy to update this blog on a regular schedule. I might get bored of blogging entirely, regardless of subject matter. Either way, for now I’ll try this out and see where it goes.

Claus O. Wilke
Professor of Integrative Biology
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