I can only begin by apologizing to John Crowley, Peter Milton, Harold Bloom, and to all our subscribers and other active supporters for the recent delays in getting the book to press, for the long delay in posting a new update, and for the many earlier delays. Though we’ve done a fair amount of work since the start of the year, and are closer than ever to finishing, we’re not there yet. I know for many of you this cannot be other than frustrating; the wait has been long indeed.
I can only continue by thanking everyone who has actively supported the Little, Big Project over the years, and especially those who from time to time have gone out of their way to send notes of appreciation and encouragement. Again and again your stories and messages have kept me going on a project that proved far more challenging and difficult than I ever could have imagined at the beginning. I could not have done it, could not have brought the Project to the brink of completion, without you. Thank you. You are amazing.
To those few who are not only feeling frustrated or angry or afraid but are now assuming the worst, that the project is dead and we are unwilling to admit it, or that it was a scam from the beginning, and who in writing to me and others have expressed their suspicions as if they were certainties, or have gone beyond assertions of certainty to language that’s harshly judgmental and pejorative: I sympathize. I’m sorry that the mistakes I’ve made over the years, combined with problems outside my control, have occasioned such anger and frustration. It’s the last thing I ever intended. But what seems to be happening at your end is that you are colonizing everything you don’t know about what’s going on with the Little, Big Project with your own fears and frustrations and assumptions and surmises. I can relate. It’s one of the things human beings are most prone to doing.
John Crowley is nobody’s fool. I regularly reality-check with him and the half dozen people closest to this project, and when they’ve had occasion to criticize me they have done so and I have responded. If at any point John decided that our project was no longer viable and the new edition was never going to be published, that would be the end of it. I would not have the option of keeping silent on a failure like that (nor would I want it); everyone would know, and quickly. Please rest easy on that score.
In March, I moved for only the third time in eleven years — but this time, it was from one coast to the other, and turned out to be the most exhausting and stressful move of my life. It had a severe negative impact on my health, in the process exacerbating the negative feedback loop of my diabetes and sleep apnea, and there have been stressful problems with my new living situation. So that contributed to the delay on the book.
As for delays on the Project side, there are some logistical and art-reproductive problems we are working to solve — we know how to solve them, it’s just executing the solutions is taking some time, as they require care and no two cases are exactly the same. (The design and layout of the book itself is complete, to everyone’s satisfaction, and has been for some time.)
Please bear in mind that there are rarely more than two people working on the project at any given time, and often only one (me), and that this is an 800-page edition with 334 art reproductions, an edition that would be a daunting project for even a large publisher with a small army of people to work on it. And that the edition once printed will be a failure if the art reproductions are of inferior quality. So we have to take as much care with the book at the end as we did at the beginning and through the long middle.
The biggest mistake I made in the January update was that I caved in to the constant and growing pressure to make concrete predictions about the timing of the book’s delivery; as close as we are to completion, there remain enough individually unique project elements to make it difficult to accurately predict a completion date for the project as a whole. And I seriously underestimated the stresses and difficulties of my at-the-time-still-forthcoming move and the extent to which its necessities would prevent me from devoting the time necessary to completing the project in the timeframe I projected.
I have devoted one-fifth of my life to this project. I dearly want to see it finished honorably and successfully. Beyond that, my future reputation depends on it. (My success or failure at completing this project may well be the first line of my obituary.) I am proud of the editing I’ve done, the design and layout we’ve created, the art we’ve chosen. This edition deserves to see print. The book is all but done. We’re on high alert, pushing as hard as we can to get it to press.
While there’s a concrete possibility we could get the book to the printer before year’s end, even well before, and that remains our goal, at this time I dare not try to harden that possibility into a prediction or deadline, for reasons given above. (Once the book is in press, setting completion and delivery dates will be more straightforward.) One strategic adjustment I am making is to prioritize work on the one element for which it has been most difficult to predict a completion time, so we can finish it and move more quickly to wrap up the project as a whole.
Thank you again for your patience and support.