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.