What It Means to Write a Book

The main research project during my sabbatical this academic year is to start to plan to write a book. I wish it were to write a book, but I am two fundamental steps before this. I am not even planning to write a book , but am just starting to do so.

I think I have found a good topic for a book in many respects. First of all, it combines many areas of linguistics I have studied. Second, it suits my characters, including perseverance, order and attention to details. Third, the (first and) last time someone wrote a book on it is more than four decades ago; a serious update is required. I have submitted to the university a rather detailed plan about what I would like to do in order to start to plan to write a book on this topic, and I really hope that I will be able to prepare a detailed table of contents by the end of my sabbatical. At the same time I am wondering what it means to write a book in general and on this specific topic in particular.

Since I started thinking about writing a book, I also started reading books by other researchers, especially those by my colleagues, from a new point of view, too. What interests me now is not only the content of the book in question but also the whole process of writing it. I like the process of selecting and reading relevant research literature and collecting and processing primary sources, but I am very bad at and slow in writing. In my simple (or simplistic) calculation it will take me at least five years to finish writing a book. I have several colleagues who publish a new book every few years. What and how they do so is simply beyond my imagination. Writing a book seems to me a daunting task, all the more so repeating this process every few years.

Although I think I have found a topic which both interests me and is a niche in (Modern Hebrew) linguistics, the topic seems to require a fundamentally different method of research from topics like grammatical description of a language that has never been described before. The topic I have in mind does not involve linguistic data collection in its conventional sense of the word; rather it involves metalinguistic analysis and review of end products, both of which are rather new to me.

In the meanwhile I am just trying to read as many relevant books and articles as possible. In retrospect I was and am always interested in this area of linguistic research, but it was only about a year ago that I realized that it is possible to investigate it, so everything I read now is so fresh and stimulating, which is very important as I thought I would never encounter such an area. But on the other hand, since I am quite new to it, I have so many things to catch up with the research outputs of at least the past five decades.