The Next Big Thing Project

Yesterday, Amy Guth (@amyguth), the social media and SEO manager at the Chicago Tribune and my guest later this week for “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays,” invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing Project. This entails me answering a 10-question form and then either privately inviting or publicly pressuring three to five other writers to participate.

Of course pressuring was a no-brainer. You can see whom I’m inviting down at the end of the post.

Also, please be sure to check out Amy’s responses to the 10 questions right here. As for mine:

1. What is your working title of your book?


33: Jesus, Belushi, Farley, and Me

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Last spring, when I was a young man of 32, I was talking to another writer about the concept of the “Jesus year”—basically that because 33 tends to be the age people associate with Jesus’ death, some have started using that year to really examine their lives, Eat, Pray, Love style. My friend said she had wanted to do a book based on her Jesus year when she was 33 but never got around to it and suggested that I give it a shot. I fell in love with the idea, even though I had absolutely no interest in selling all my worldly possessions and moving to an ashram. So, since my birthday on Sept. 10, I’ve been working on completing a list of 33 things while I’m 33 years old that I’ve always wanted to do and writing about both the pursuit of them and life in general, pretty much every day. The Belushi and Farley piece comes in because when you’re a humorist, you’re also painfully aware that they, too, died at 33. As such, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. I have a fuller description of the book in the 33 Project section of this site.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s an annualist. (That’s a fancy way of saying “Do something for a year and write about it.”)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Since 33 is about my life, the two main characters are my wife and me. She would be played by Rachel Bilson, who, like Jenny, is a stunning brunette and has an impeccable fashion sense. As for me, it would probably be Michael Cera. Someone once suggested a resemblance to Will Arnett, but I don’t think I’m quite cool enough to make that work.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Turning 33 doesn’t make you old, but it doesn’t exactly make you young, either.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Like Don Draper, I’m an agency man.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It will take one year because that’s how long I’ll be 33 (I’m pretty sure). The first draft is going to be WAY too long.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

As far as I’m concerned, A.J. Jacobs (The Know-It-AllThe Year of Living BiblicallyDrop Dead Healthy) is the king of the humor-oriented annualist. And I’m not just saying this because he once answered an e-mail from me.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned, that friend was the one who really got me going on this idea. Also, I have an anxiety disorder that I have struggled to manage at other points in my life, and now that I’m doing better with it, I wanted to take advantage of that newfound freedom, so to speak, while also exploring my disorder itself. Told you I could be deep.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Yes, I really did watch all of Seinfeld in less than one week.

Thanks again to Amy for asking me to do this; it was a blast (at least it was for me; I can’t speak for you). Now, for the three writers I’d like to invite to do the same:

Doc Marek is a poet whom I had the great pleasure of meeting one day at my local Barnes & Noble. He’s only 21 and already published. Kind of makes we wonder what the hell I was doing when I was that age. Twitter: @DocMarek

Emma Trevayne is a YA sci-fi/cyberpunk writer. Her first novel comes out this spring, and she has several more in the pipeline. We follow each other on Twitter but haven’t really conversed much, so I’m hoping she’ll be up for this so I can learn more about her (even though it looks like she just did something kind of similar on her site). Twitter: @EMentior

Michelle Witte is both a fellow humorist and a literary agent. She’s been a “50 Words” guest on my site before and cracked me up then, so I’d love to hear what she has to say about all this, especially since I know her next book is coming out this spring. Twitter: @michellewitte


  1. Amy Guth

    Awesome post, Ted. I enjoyed reading about your “annualist” project, something I’ve always wanted to try to do/write.

    Thanks for playing along with my public pressuring.

  2. Pingback: The Next Big Thing Project | Nailing Shadows to the Wall

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