THE BOOK I WILL WRITE by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. THE BOOK I WILL WRITE is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, and was living at the library following a kidnapping episode with The Zeppelin Society. Fleming recruited a library memoir group to help him confront his would-be killer. After a tense showdown, Fleming disappeared, seemingly kidnapped again by The Zeppelin Society.
#72 ON A MACRO LEVEL, I CARE
Dear John Henry Fleming,
I’m writing this final email to forestall you from contacting me about your book.
Don’t do it.
I need to get my life back. I have my life back, and I want to keep it. I have my job back. My freedom. I kicked Seamus to the curb, and when he came back begging, I kicked him there again.
You’ve already explained in great detail how you’re writing a book, or planning to. I understand that. And I understand you want me to care about it and help you. I do care. On a macro level, I care. But I can no longer afford to think on a macro level. I have other things right here in front of me, and if I don’t attend to them, they can be taken away. That’s my lesson from the weeks in jail.
Plus, I have actual manuscripts to consider. They appear on my desk. Before me now is one written by a library writing group calling themselves the Grandmoirs I haven’t read one word and I already know I’m going to publish it. If it’s bad, we can hire someone to make it good. The draw of a septuagenarian writing group hitting it big is too promising to pass up. Imagine them on the Today show. Imagine them on Oprah. I’ll write the damn thing myself if I have to.
That’s the state of things.
As for me, I can’t think of the past anymore, and I can’t use you to do it. I wish I knew who you were, but it’s better I don’t. I invite you now to retreat into the past that I will from now on seriously avoid thinking about, and I hope you have a happy life there. I admire you for living in a different world. I admire your faith and your endless optimism, which I hope for your sake is not also a bottomless pit. In any case, I’m blocking your email address.
All my best to you, John Henry Fleming. May you someday have what you want.