I read and wrote this week:
The Scorpion’s Sting by James Oakes: I visited Jim in his office to share my developing thoughts on a constitutional amendment on sustainability and he gave me a copy of this book, as I’ve loved the four or so I’ve already read. I suspect after my book comes out, I’ll share how much southern slaveholders and their culture foreshadow people who pollute and deplete today, along with that part of our culture. We benefit from reading his works and learning the challenges of making slavery illegal.
I didn’t realize what a challenge the Emancipation Proclamation was. Despite being an executive order, the U.S. had precedent of three wars in which one side freed slaves of the other, then had to figure out how to resolve what to do afterward. One side viewed these humans as property, the other as free people, then everyone had to interpret contract wording. Also, there was an irony that antislavery politicians had to deal with race even though the slaveholders were practicing slavery based on skin color. The slaveholders were united in their racist views, but Lincoln’s party wasn’t, so ended up talking about it more.
Also thought provoking: for thousands of years, wars involved one side freeing slaves of the other. The American Civil War was the first to abolish slavery entirely from the other side.
I sent the latest draft of my book to my editor yesterday. I’m relieved to have sent it and am enjoying liberation from the feeling “I could be editing right now” every moment I’m not editing, though, in fairness, I’ve been handling such feelings since starting working on my PhD thesis, around 1997.
I can’t celebrate yet, though, since the measure of my writing comes from readers, not just words on a page. I have to wait to hear back before I can overcome that anxiety. Still: relief and accomplishment. There’s no denying that writing a great book requires words on a page.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees