It’s been 4 months since my last visit to China. Towards the end of the trip, I talked to a publisher who might be interested in publishing my book on happiness. I needed to send her the outline along with the first chapter. I haven’t contacted her since our lunch meeting in Shanghai.

I did draft the outline and penned the preface that I am still not happy with even after a few rounds of edits. I felt stuck. For some reason, writing in Chinese seemed to be more work than enjoyment. So I pushed the project aside and decided that it would be resurrected when I felt I wanted to write the book instead of I should write it. The defining moment came yesterday on the train on my way home from work. It dawned on me that the timing was right and I was ready to face the challenge. At night I shared with Joe my decision and we high-fived each other. Yes, I am going to do it without further delay!

I took another look at the outline and made a few major changes. This is my new strategy: to get unstuck, I’ll go right into the first chapter and rewrite the preface at the end.

When working on my memoir LET GO, I spent weeks on the prologue, weighing every work over and over again. Finally I thought it was amazing. After the editor read my book, she uttered something like, “Don’t really care about the opening scene. It might be better if you started with the story of your own birth instead of the birth of your son.” I was stunned and disappointed but she did make sense. So I recreated the prologue and to my surprise it only took 2 hours.

The English name for the book is “The Scientific Roadmap to Happiness”. It’s a mouthful, but I can’t think of anything shorter and more eye-catching. Also I have no idea what the book will be called in Chinese. It will come to me at some point. That’s what happened with LET GO. I just hope that this time it’ll come in Chinese and thus the meaning won’t be lost in translation.

Without a realistic goal, things are unlikely to get done, at least for me. So my goal is to get this book finished within a year. It’s a bit aggressive and yet achievable. I’ve been traveling for business almost every other week and things are likely to pick up even more. But what’s amazing about writing is that I can write anywhere, on the train or airplane or at the airport. Even if my hands are occupied with tasks unrelated to writing, my mind keeps churning. I get ideas on what to write about next and how to modify or improve a finished piece when least expected.

It’s true that my Chinese is rusty, but this presents a perfect opportunity to utilize my gifted family and friends in China who will serve as my critics and editors before any finished chapters go to the publisher. For the rest of the year, I am going to take a break from blogging (unless I am inspired to post something) and focus on the happiness book. A new chapter has begun. So long friends, I’ll be back.

*Image credit: http://www.wallpaperswala.com/happiness/