I’ve really gotten to love the GVSU Writing Retreat. It’s basically a lockdown in the writing center: 40 hours of uninterrupted time, free food, and dismal coffee to keep you going. Okay, the coffee leaves just a little to be desired, but the rest is fantastic.

My goal this week is to get within striking distance of finishing this long-term book project. The project has been on hold this semester, as grading, prepping for class, and other realities have interfered with it. But I am back at it.

Here’s what I did today: made a master list (lists are always good) of the pieces I still think I need–there are eight or nine of them, some artwork, some writing. I also need to conduct at least one more interview with some of the family members. Beyond the list making, I finished a short piece on the history of Monrovia, compiled a really cool piece from the trial of Charles Taylor, finalized the last piece of the work, started a piece on the fates of the major warlords, and figured out a strategy for ending the book. Oh yeah: if you’re not familiar with my project, it’s a multigenre work on a refugee family from Sierra Leone.

I’m over 100 pages into the manuscript, somewhere around 80 pieces. If I were Rob Bell, I could turn this into two or three books, I suppose (have you seen the spacing and font in Love Wins? ). I’m working with an artist on the key illustrations for the text. Tomorrow, I hope to finish the warlord piece, fine tune others, and dig back into the transcripts for more stuff.