I’ve been working diligently (well, fairly diligently) on a book about teaching and sharing history. I had a great system to get myself started: I just started writing! This blog was very helpful in that regard, because I could pull content from the blog and modify it for the book. I did not worry about the book’s specific layout, initially. I had certain content that I knew I wanted to include and made a few general outlines, but otherwise I just wrote on those topics and subjects!
A few months ago, I reached enough content that it was time to start pulling it together and organizing it all. I wasn’t done, had not written all of it, but had enough material that the next pieces I wrote would benefit from the guidance of seeing how far I had come at the time and figuring out approximately how much further I had to go, what directions I would take, and what themes or research were still required. Bon. Alles gut.
So, I took all of these individually typed Word files down to my local print shop, because I can’t really edit anything of real length properly on the computer screen, and printed out all of my individual files. I organized them, pulled out a working table of contents, did some preliminary editing, and brought it altogether in one new Word document. Thankfully, I completed that task before the new dog peed on the binder and yellowed the entire manuscript, which promptly went into recycling once my desire for hygiene overcame any arguments from my desire to archive. A little rocky, at the end, but again, bon. Alles gut.
I returned to the printer with a newer, solitary Word document that had been updated with additional material and, of course, my working table of contents. For a variety of reasons, I have a good relationship with my local printer, who has always proven quite competent. So, I was a little thrown when I requested 2 pages printed on 1 page, front and back–effectively giving me 4 pages on one piece of paper, and thus saving me a little green while printing out 138 pages of my draft manuscript–and was told, “I don’t know how to do that.” I did what I could to help, but the final result was 4 pages squashed onto each page of the single-sided print job. Not wanting to waste the 35 pages and having battled through 4 squashed pages in my grad school days while printing off .pdfs of journal papers, I figured it wasn’t ideal, but I could manage.
And, manage I have…along with the mantra, “never again,” pumping through the vitreous fluid behind my cornea! I have gone through all 138 pages, editing away, but as I go through them a second time to update my digital draft, I find myself [hysterically] laughing away margin notes that say, “Rewrite, unclear!” It will still be unclear when I go through the next draft, maybe even more unclear, and thus will once again earn the severe margin notes. But, just now, at 70-odd pages in, I find my readiness to be creative and my tolerance for creating textual fixes waning as I read letters that are but barely measured in millimeters–as in 2 mm high, if capitalized–and the attendant marginalia, also necessarily small. Deletion, or paring down, if you will, has meanwhile been far easier than on any prior text I think I’ve ever worked over. Bon. Alles gut.