Paris, France

September 1, 2019

My big secret project: The Novel

One of the most common questions I get in my inbox is, "where are you going next?" and "how do you decide?"

For the most part, until now, it's been mostly a combination of places I wanted to learn about, places I loved, and a smattering of really random, "why not?" sorts of ventures.

But simmering underneath all of that has been a big project.

Like rest-of-my-life big.

See, I'm working on a novel.

Maybe not a novel. The novel. The one really great piece of art I'm hoping to make in my lifetime.

Three years ago, here in Paris, the first concepts started to come together. Some of the characters showed up.

Last year, in an explosion that spanned two notebooks over dinner, the central structure arrived, complete. Characters and scenes streamed in over the summer as I wrote, wrote, wrote.

This year, I've dug into the details, found a few more scenes - and started to understand exactly what telling this story is going to really take.

See, at its heart, it's a novel about a table. A table and some plates and forks and knives and glasses and delicious Italian food and you. And me. And time. Lots and lots and lots of time.

If you've been reading me for a few years, you know how often I keep coming back to the same themes - that everything is right there in front of us, hidden in the details. That everything is connected. That there is no from, and there is no away.

That story is the story of this book - and it's going to take me years to craft.

It's also going to take a lot of travel.

If I want to write about peppercorns from India, the stories that led them to that table, I need to go meet them, watch the vines climbing up the trees. If I want to write a true story about the sweetness of the San Marzano tomatos, I need to see them soaking up the sun, meet the hands that pinch them from the vine, pass them to the plate. There are stories in the marble tabletop. Stories in the chairs. And human stories, woven between and through all of it.

So that's what I'm doing with the next few years - maybe longer.

To find all those stories, soak them in, and then start to tell them, all-together - new.

I'll keep writing these letters as I go, sharing the questions and glimpses I find along the way. Who knows, maybe I'll start a youtube channel or finally get on instagram too.

But that's the big journey ahead.

Thanks for coming along this far - and I can't wait to see what we find out there, together. :)

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this video from Australian artist Jazza, and the bold (and risky) reclaiming of his whole creative person from the one-note song internet personalities are often painted into. It's emotional, real, and compelling, and it makes me think we might live in a new age of celebrity - and a better one.

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