Due to certain obstacles and non-writing commitments (some of which were highlighted in the writing update from last January), there were about 8 months in 2013 in which I didn't write a single word of the book. In an effort to subdue the forces conspiring against the completion my book, I made a point of planning my end-of-the-year schedule so that those obstacles and commitments largely vanished after the beginning of October, leaving me several months to focus on writing. That planning paid off: as of yesterday, I can officially say that I have finished writing the bulk of the book!
So what does that mean? It means that I've written up short reviews for each of the hundreds of street foods I ate in China. For every single food, this entailed deciphering handwritten Chinese characters in my notebook, researching the dish to learn its history and ingredients and to be sure it actually originated where I am telling people it originated (often needing to pore through inscrutable Google translations of Chinese websites to get my information), and trying to come up with an engaging way of describing it that doesn't sound exactly the same as all the other write-ups in the book (how many ways can you say delicious, spicy, or oily?). When I was in a good writing routine, my general goal was to do this for five foods a day, a goal that fit comfortably in the middle ground between not getting enough done and not getting burnt out. This whole process was (I hope) the most time-consuming part of writing this book by far. All that remains to do now is editing, layout, a little bit of fact-checking, writing a few introductory sections, wrapping up a few other odds and ends, and publishing. I'd guess that I have less than 15% of the work remaining. I don't know how long this might take, but I am confident it won't take nearly as long as the writing I have already done. My basic estimate is about two or three solid, unhindered months of work. Unfortunately, I have some commitments coming down the pike so I don't have that kind of time available right away. Nonetheless, I hope to have this book finished and out on the market later this year.
So there you have it. That's where things stand right now. I'm pleased to have the day-to-day tedium of slogging through these write-ups behind me, and I'm looking forward to the next stage in the process. Naturally, I'll try to keep you updated as things continue to progress. Onward!