Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How to organize a book

Quantum, physics, Charlene Brown
(click on image to enlarge)

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

In designing the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí wanted something much more soaring than could be achieved with Roman arches but considered the Gothic style imperfect because it needs buttresses to counteract the outward pressure on the perpendicular walls. Believing that “the House of God should stand on its own,” Gaudí designed this Barcelona cathedral with paraboloid spires and vaults.  In fact, he frequently found solutions in natural forms, in helicoids as well as elliptic and hyperbolic paraboloids, and he made use of fractals, structures that split into smaller replications of themselves.

According to ChrisGuillebeau, the perfect introduction to a book often comes late in the writing process... You shouldn’t think you can’t really start until you’ve worked out a complete outline and written the introduction. He says you should start with what you know best. Work on that. Then work on something else… whatever you have to do, just keep going.

This is how I’m approaching my next book – a collection of blog posts relating to both art and science –with the working title ‘The Fine Art of Physics’… and when I saw Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia during a brief stop in Barcelona this summer, I decided to try to fit it into the book.  Somewhere.  I don’t yet know if it will go in a chapter on the history of parallel developments and crossovers in the arts and sciences, or a chapter that’s just about architecture, or maybe it should be mentioned in discussing the role of fractals in visualizing multi-dimensionality…

Which brings me to another point Chris Guillebeau stresses… When you work from the middle indefinitely, a manuscript will become disjointed, and it requires some effort to stitch it all together.  Before too long, I will draw up an outline, and begin at the beginning.