Friday, October 23, 2009


Two things about revision: 1) The book is better for it; and 2) A brilliant editor knows how to get results. I left crumbs and notes about the process on a bunch of sites and boards I visit, but I thought I'd gather them together here.

Oct1: Got my revision letter today and it's clear as crystal and twice as brilliant. (Andrew Karre rocks.) I can't start the real work until Monday, but I'll be hanging around for the week-or-whattever-it-takes.

Oct. 4: Yesterday I was up from 1:30am to 9:30p.m. BIC HOC TAM with a break to plant tulips and take a shower. Sadly, none of this was time spent on my revision or drafting. I swear, when I finally move these two indexing projects off my desk, I'm going to hibernate for three days.

Oct. 5: Last night I did an x-ray of my book. Now I can see where the dislocated joints and broken bones are. Color-coded sticky notes are applied like band-aids all over the poor little thing.

Oct. 7: Work deadline today. Person who usually holds up the other half of the sky is in San Francisco until Sunday night. I want to have my revisions completed by Friday. . . . So I volunteered to spend the morning at the school helping with vision testing. 'cause once a day is impossible, what's the difference?

Oct. 9: I have now achieved the point where I despise every aspect, every comma, every dot over every i in my book. This is progress. 12 hours ago I was paralyzed. Now that I hate it, it is going to be so much easier to slap it into shape.

Oct. 10: Oh, cut and paste, I wish I knew how to I quit you." And I think I owe an apology to the 7000 students I told to avoid the narrative present tense. It can be done. It's not going to make your job as a writer any easier though.

Oct. 13: The very best thing about revision is discovering the things that should have been there--and now they can be. I'll be finishing it up today. I may need to do another round: maybe I made some missteps; maybe I misunderstood the intent of some of the editorial suggestions. I'm OK with that. In fact, so many good things happened during this revision I'd be excited to see what develops during another pass.

Oct. 14: Finished the first-round revisions for Freak Observer and it's back to explaining that sorting things alphabetically is not the hard part of indexing--and, no, it doesn't make things easier to index the book before the pages are set--and yes, I've still got room in my February schedule. All 434 juicy pages of "France's New Deal" arrived yesterday. Did you even know France had a "New Deal"? I love my job.

Oct. 15: I finished my first round of revisions yesterday. My book is so much better for it.

Today, at least two great things happened. 1) I got permission to use some of the lyrics of The Large Hadron Rap in my book. (Kate McAlpine: Your science communication skills rule. 5 million geeks can't be wrong.); 2) My editor posted the result of his web searches today for one book--my book. It was so amazing to see that. It's a visual TOC--or the strangest guest list for and imaginary dinner party ever.

Oct. 16: I just got my second revision letter. I can handle it, but nobody told me that the road to publication was like the streets in San Francisco--sudden shocking changes in pitch and altitude.

Oct. 18: I'm absolutely, positively going to do all my revisions. I will not be sidetracked by my indexing work--or yard work--or the primates in captivity.

Oct. 19: I'm ashamed of ignoring the metaphorical potential of programming. I blame my time spent in the computer-book-publishing-cube-farm.

Oct. 20: Second round of revisions just went to my editor. If my editor ever wrote a book, I'd line up to buy it. He made my book so much better I feel like his name should be right there on the cover beside mine.
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