Here's a presentation of a paper I've now spent 3 years writing, re-writing, editing, and tweaking. It was presented at the LSE on Friday, thanks to Adam Oliver for organising the event. I've blogged about this paper a few times, but this is the simplest summary I've come up with to date. Any comments/questions/suggestions would be most welcome on this work.
The basic problem in writing mathematics is the same as in writing biology, writing a novel, or writing directions for assembling a harpsichord: the problem is to communicate an idea. To do so, and to do it clearly, you must hâve something to say, and you must hâve someone to say it to, you must organize what you want to say, and you must arrange it in the order you want it said in, you must write it, rewrite it, and re-rewrite it several times, and you must be willing to think hard about and work hard on mechanical details such as diction, notation, and punctuation. That' s all there is to it.
Here's an interview I did about the writing of Ireland in 2050.
When did the idea for your book first come to you?
The idea for the book came after my second son was born. I became a little obsessed with the type of Ireland he and his older brother might end up seeing, and read widely around the topic of Ireland’s future, looking at reports, blogs, the usual. On August 6, 2008, I wrote an article for the Irish Times, called ‘What will life be like for a middle class family in 2050?’ It took off from there.
What attracted you to the topic of your latest book?
The fact is that many of us will see 2050, but we don’t discuss our long-term economic, social, and cultural issues in this context. We act like today, this year, this part of the business cycle, and this political set of circumstances are all that there is. While we have urgent challenges to face, Ireland has more important issues which need to be addressed, like climate change, sustaining our living standards when there are more older people in society than younger people, and educating our children in the right way so as not to damage their creativity.
How long did it take you to write?
About 11 weeks. After one day spent hacking out a premise in October 2008, I wrote for 1 week in January of 2009, then for all of June, July, and 2 weeks of August this year. Ireland in 2050 came out on September 28th.