Saturday, 8 September 2012

Final straight

If you have never written an academic book... but if you are an academic you may have written a thesis or an essay, and if you are not there may be some other activity you will recognise in my agony. I have almost finished a book. It was a very difficult book to write, and I am quite pleased with it - at least for the moment, which might change by tomorrow. Almost finished means that the chapters and even the Introduction and Conclusion are done, but what remains is the boring yet important details such as bibliography and punctuation. For this particular book, I have annotated bibliography at the end of each chapter, which is more work than just a straightforward list of references. Everything mentioned in chapters must also go to the general bibliography at the end of the book, in correct format. (Don't tell me that there is software for this. I have seen student bibliographies generated by software). 

I have made life hard for myself by having lots of special features in this book, such as boxes and quotes. Most quotes come naturally, but when you need just this one little quote it can take hours. I know exactly where I've put it, and I can't find it. The only reasonable solution: delete.

Deleting is inevitable at this stage, and only I will ever know what has never made it into the book. What was hiding behind the notes to myself: Develop! Expand! Explain! With the deadline threatening, I cannot afford developing, so deleting is the option. There is a life after a book.

And of course I am eating my words: how many times have I told students to do everything correct from the beginning! So why I am now sitting hour after hour moving fullstops and commas inside the quotation marks?

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