Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nearly Done--Time for Vacation?

Although I turned my manuscript in about three weeks ago, it is only now, at this point in time, that I'm able to reflect on it and offer some near-concluding thoughts.

The writing experience, to me, is a difficult one, largely because of the public scrutiny it requires. No matter how many eyes I allow to gaze at the pages before I mark them "done," no one was ever as pleased as I felt they should have been. So, I conclude this writing project full of doubt about how it will be viewed.

Granted I was working according to a set of parameters that are probably not either understood or valued by the average reader. This had to be an academic book and as such will not read like a David McCullough or even a Scott Eyman. I still want to write a biography in their style--in other words, a biography that utilizes literary techniques in order to make the material more readable and more enjoyable. The Syd book, however, although containing a wealth of new and interesting information, was a book I wrote for tenure--a scholarly treatment of both his life and career. As such, I am very proud of it and I hope others will enjoy it, too. It certainly presents Syd Chaplin in a way never before attempted anywhere.

The title of the book will be "Syd Chaplin: A Biography," as simple as that. I kind of like it. Unlike Sydney himself, there is no doubt here of the book's subject matter. There's no mystery. I think it's going to be a large paperback (7" X 10") and around 400 pages. I have been told that it will also be released in an e-book version, which is kind of exciting. As one who embraced technology before others, Sydney would have appreciated that, I think.

We're already listed on the McFarland site and I think I was told it would be in the Fall catalog, but I'm not sure what that means. I look forward to traveling around with Sydney next spring and summer, talking about him to whomever will allow me. Will pass on other information as I receive it.

I always learn something about myself after completing a project. This one was especially daunting. I got a contract well before the book was completed and I had (unwisely) left the most intense chapters for last. Some of them ended up being 50 pages in length. I don't recommend it for everyone, but my particular mania always seems to thrive on procrastination (at some level) and so I wrote 135 pages in three weeks, working every spare moment I had beyond my teaching and other academic duties (and planning the Chaplin conference!). I hope these particular chapters aren't discernible in the text itself.

And then post-book, there is always a sort of mourning period, which I'm still experiencing somewhat. Up until this week, I couldn't bear to go into my office and face the piles of books and articles heaped on the floor, following the writing. I am now able to try to re-order them all, because I know that soon I will be working on the index. When that is completed, my work will be mostly over.

Stay tuned for updates.

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