Nearing the end of editing a book

posted in: Books, Creativity, Writing | 8

I need to check how many years the book with a deadline this week has been in the works, but . . . as of last night at about 10:30, it’s all in one piece and that piece is a near-final draft. … I’d spent time on that chapter earlier in the week before I decided that this was one of those tasks that, if I let it, it would suck up every scrap of energy and time we had, so it needed to be shown who was boss.

I need to check how many years the book with a deadline this week has been in the works, but . . . as of last night at about 10:30, it’s all in one piece and that piece is a near-final draft. This is freelance work, so I’m not doing the graphics or layout . . . just the words, which can be plenty. All intense editing jobs should incorporate free access to a gym (preferably within fifty feet of the desk the editor can’t leave for long), regular massages, and, near the conclusion, sessions with a good chiropractor.

Fortunately, I’ve learned pretty well by now how to pace myself, that exercise and food are essential, when to set aside a particularly sticky task and come back to it later, what types of breaks work best for recharging both body and mind, and when (and when not) to take them.

On Saturday, I drove nearly 200 miles round-trip to go to half of an all-day shape note singing (singing from Denson (red book) and Norumbega (black book), with a few forays into Cooper (blue) for some alto harmonies). That would seem excessive if I had more opportunities to go to all-day singings, but I only have access to a few a year. I wanted to go for the whole day (9:30 to 3:30), but couldn’t let myself leave until I’d reviewed (and returned to the author) everything BUT the one hardest-to-edit chapter in the book. I’d spent time on that chapter earlier in the week before I decided that this was one of those tasks that, if I let it, it would suck up every scrap of energy and time we had, so it needed to be shown who was boss. I put it back in the “in progress” folder and turned to work on the rest of the book.

At 10:19 a.m. on Saturday, I completed the last file on my list (except the set of files for that one chapter). There was not a single editing-capable brain cell left in my skull. If I’d tried to continue, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything. At 10:45, I was in the car. By 12:45, I was at the singing. Home by 6:30 with groceries (no time for restocking the pantry all week), then to a play (I’m Not Rappaport, by Herb Gardner, at Bas Bleu Theatre). Straight to bed, no editing.

Sunday: completely dedicated to dealing with the final chapter, which was, indeed, like obedience-training a giant octopus. All the information was there. The author just knows his material too well. I needed to make the chapter work for a reader who does not live and breathe this particular topic (like me). I started at 7:30 a.m. and finished at 10:07 p.m., having taken three short breaks for meals, two to walk the dogs, and a couple of hours in mid-afternoon to do essential errands.

I’ve still got work to do on the manuscript, but it is now (finally) clear that we will turn it in to the publishing house this week.

Cue “Hallelujah Chorus.” I’m trying to think of equivalent works from other musical traditions that are appropriate to the situation and I’m coming up blank. Do Buddhists have celebration songs with that much enthusiasm?

The book we are working on will, by the way, be an extraordinarily fine and useful title that will do excellent work when it is out in the world. (For those who know me, it is not about knitting.) It should be published in the first part of 2010.

Facebooktwitterrss

8 Responses

  1. Good to hear from you–and glad to know you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

  2. Hmmm, I’ve never sung from the Norumbega book. Is it still available? I’d love to add it to my hymnbook collection. Do you have the Harmonia Sacra?

    If you ever have a chance to pick up a copy of a Mennonite Hymnal (the old one is red and the new one is blue), look up #606 in the red book which is now #118 in the blue book (but is still referred to as #606). That’s what I cue instead of the Hallelujah Chorus when I want some rousing music. We sang it in church this past Sunday. It rocks.

  3. Celebratory music: 1812 overture (cue the cannons!), the climax of Rhapsody in Blue, or the end of the Firebird. (All three give me the shivers.)

    Thanks for sharing your methods of dealing with challenges and staying healthy in the process. Good reminder that productivity requires breaks and rest!

  4. Janet, yes, Norumbega is definitely available. Typography in it is exquisitely clear. If you want recommendations of tunes to start with, let me know. http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/531

    Nope, I don’t have the Harmonia Sacra, or the Mennonite Hymnal, but it looks like that one’s worth finding for #606! Thanks!

  5. Yup. Only there are just a few more NEW things to add, just arrived, and we turn in the ms. tomorrow. . . . Is that light the end of the tunnel, or the train?

  6. Cool. Great ideas. Thank you!

    Deb

  7. Elizabeth D

    http://www.oldsongs.org/festival/ always the last full weekend of June. There are Sacred Harp sings Saturday and Sunday. A beautiful time of year to be in the Albany, NY area

  8. I enjoy that you too do the shape note thing as well. I like the overlap in interests. I’m dragging/being drug by the woman who taught me to knit and taking another knittingfriend to a local sing this evening, so it’s on my mind, a bunch.

Leave a Reply