Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Separation anxiety

It is always painful to submit a book manuscript. It's like a baby: you have had it inside you for a long, long time, and then it comes out of the printer and starts living a life of its own. (Yes, I do mean printer. Some people don't want their computers invaded by other people's manuscripts and request a hard copy; I cannot blaim them). I have been pregnant with this particular book for an exceptionally long time, for a number of reasons, and frankly, I am quite bored by it. But a stillborn book is worse, and then there are all kinds of academic pressure (bibliometric assessment is the fancy lable for it), and friends and colleagues have been wondering when a new book is coming and what it is about. It's part of academic games.

It is a solemn moment when you realize that a book is finished. Of course, a book, or even an article, can ever be finished and you can go on and on, but at some point it is imperative to stop. I arrived at this point today just before lunch. I deleted a good portion of a chapter to fit the word count; I added a missing reference; I changed the subheadings to bold and back. Then I could not put it off any longer. I assembled the separate chapters into a file. The book was finished.

I returned from lunch, printed out the text, squeezed it into an envelope and took a walk to the other building to put the envelope in the mail. No way back.

From previous experience I know that page proofs always come when you least expect them.


Cornelia said...

Dear Professor Nikolajeva (eller får jag skriva: "Hej Maria!"?),

it is a search for your latest publications, rather than for personal information, that has lead me to your blog. I am just adding the finishing touches to a paper for Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer's picture book conference in Troisdorf next weekend, and wanted to make sure for the umpteenth time that I had not missed any substantial publications on my subject. Imagine my surprise when I found out that you had left Sweden and taken up residence in Cambridge now! (By the way, we've met at the Astrid Lindgren Centennial Conference in 2007.) It was fascinating to read about your experiences and decisions on your way to your new academic home. I hope that you will continue enjoying your new life, and wish you all the best for your latest book!

Kind regards,
Cornelia Rémi

Maria Nikolajeva said...

Thank you, Cornelia, and yes, you can say "Hej Maria". I haven't forgotten Swedish yet. :-)

Cornelia said...

Tack för svaret - skönt att veta! (Men samtidigt känns det konstigt att kunna använda både engelska och svenska och vara medveten om att varken det ena eller det andra är ditt eller mitt modersmål.)

Ha det så hemskt bra!