Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I wrote a book!!

It is written! It is shipped! I FEEL AWESOME.

Pity that I can't enjoy any real vacation after that, since classes start tomorrow. But you know, you roll with the punches. And honestly, it doesn't bring me down that classes start tomorrow. I have written a book. I have seen its voluminous pages neatly tucked into a Priority Shipping box and sent off to my editor. I have formally updated my CV to list the book as 'in press'. (This is the right term once it goes to copy editing, right?) I feel good, the rest of the world be damned.

So for a change, let's just have a little fun on this blog, shall we? :)

Flavia jokingly included a link to a recent post of mine as defensive citation, which just tickled me. Even if she and I worked in the same field, which we do not, she is quickly attaining the status of what my grandmother would call "a big macher," whilst I am...well, not nobody, but not much above that. The idea of someone of her status citing someone of mine defensively is frankly hilarious to me.

But her post reminded me that I have pulled off some mildly ridiculous citations in my book* that, if I'm honest, are there for one of three reasons.  These are, to wit:
  1. Another scholar is more famous and powerful than I, and I don't want to make an enemy out of that person — even if hir work is all but irrelevant to mine. (This is more or less what Flavia characterized as 'defensive citation'.
  2. Another scholar is a friend of mine, and I want to give them a tip o' the hat. This reason goes double if said scholar has been a friend of mine since our grad school days, or if zi directed me to some information that I found useful for the book.
  3. I thought it would be fucking hilarious to get away with citing it, whether or not it truly required a formal citation.
So for more entertainment, let's play a little game of Dr. Koshary's Ludicrous Book Citations.

1. How many old friends did Dr. Koshary cite just give them a shout-out, even though their work is relatively small-scale and largely irrelevant to his topic?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. He stopped counting at 15.

2. How many of Dr. Koshary's citations qualify as 'defensive', as per Flavia's description, and/or sucking up to more powerful colleagues likely to read the book?
a. 5
b. 10
c. 15
d. He should have stopped counting at 20, before his face turned that red.

3. Which humorous music video did Dr. Koshary manage to cite?
a. 3-Way ("You guys are still here?")
b. Iran So Far ("...But you're in New York now, baby!")
c. Jack Sparrow ("Now back to the good part!")
d. Motherlover ("Every Mother's Day needs a Mother's Night!")

4. Despite proof-reading everything repeatedly, how many mistakes did Dr. Koshary find in the bibliography after mailing the package to the Press — in fact, while he was looking at it to find material for this post?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

5. After discovering the answer to Question 4, what colorful language did Dr. Koshary just bellow to himself in his apartment?
a. "Fuck me and all of creation!"
b. "Son of a bitch!"
c. "Klatu verada nikto!"
d. "Goddamnsonofabitchbastardfuck!"
*Unless the Press' copyeditors force me to discard any of these citations as needless clutter, I suppose.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

RBOC: Proof-reading, re-formatting, and drinking

  • Yeah, I know that this is not the ideal scenario, and usually one should proof-read one's work whilst sober. 
  • That hypothetical goodie-two-shoes, though, can suck it. He didn't have to make sure that every last em-dash was re-typed as an en-dash.
  • Or ensure that all the bibliography entries were thoroughly formatted with headline-style capitalization, no matter what Zotero did automatically. 
  • (Have you ever noticed that Zotero's headline-style capitalization is thrown off by hyphenated compounds?)
  • Or make sure that, even in said bibliography, every goddamned character that Zotero formatted in italics is re-formatted as underlined.
  • Or figure out how languages written in non-Latin alphabets might constitute formal exceptions to any of the above, given the demands of both the Press and the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Oh, pardon me, I meant: Chicago Manual of Style. 
  • OMFG, no, I didn't: CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE. CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE. CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE.  See, motherfuckers? We can handle italicization in the current technological age. What the bloody hell is the good of using one kind of font strictly to indicate that we really want to use another font? 
  • F.M.L.
  • I bet that this hypothetical jagoff also didn't feel obliged to do this kind of proof-reading at 1:00 on Sunday morning in order to raise the odds that he might actually ship out the entire manuscript on Monday.
  • Fucksox.
  • On the plus side, I bet that this hypothetical jagoff couldn't mix a Manhattan half as smoothly knee-weakening as can I. So fuck him.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not-so-RBOC: Did I finish?

  • I just finished writing the book. I think. I tied up the last page of the last bit reasonably well, I think. I think. Now there will be no more new words to add, but only the proofreading to do. I think.
  • I am so, so ready for this work to be completed. As I've gotten close to deadline, I have found myself grinding my teeth as a nervous habit while I work. The gums around the molars of my lower left jaw are aching.
  • I think I have finished in no small part because, as I ended the last paragraph, I had a feeling of 'Gee, now it all comes together!' I can see this book as a whole.
  • Oh, yeah, there's still the matter of one photograph whose copyright permission I need to secure. FML.
  • But once I do that, then I can proofread it and, pending any last thoughts my editor wants to drop on me, I can ship it.
  • I think.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CYA citations and memes

I may well have worked the last of my citations into the manuscript this evening. To be perfectly frank, I was motivated to look into a few sources as a CYA maneuver to head off criticism that I never thought about XYZ analytical approaches.  Several pseudology colleagues of mine, who I know are going to read this book when it sees print, are more interested in XYZ than I am, and I live in possibly-maybe-just-a-little-bit unreasonable dread that they will be disappointed with my analysis and pillory me in the book reviews. (One in particular terrifies me, since zi has actually been awfully kind to me so far, and I am quietly aware that I owe hir big time.)

I've already had the realization several times over that I cannot and will not, despite all best efforts, completely thrill everyone, and that it's a bad idea to try.  And yet it's hard to let go of that grad-student-y desire to cite everything that moves!

But I at least feel like looking up these last few sources did me some good. I'm certainly not going to develop a new analysis for the book based on them, but I like the ideas they dropped on me, and I may follow up on them in the future.  And, more to the point, I feel – reasonably or not – like referring to them in a few well-chosen places throughout the manuscript is the equivalent of reinforcing a chink in my armor.  That's probably a really unhelpful way to view this whole process, but since I'm re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy again this summer, that's the first image that comes to mind. (Are you starting to think that I need to read something new?  I'm starting to think that.)

What the hell, if it works, it works.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Home stretch

I am now within ten percent of hitting my ideal word count for the manuscript. A lot of today's production was actually cutting and pasting: I had deleted some chunks of the last draft because they seemed to meander and distract from my larger points, and today I was able to see how to re-insert them in different places and contextualize them better. (I think/hope.) I also wrote some new passages here and there, so I feel good about the day's work.

Good thing, too, because I have to shake a leg if I'm going to make this deadline. I've almost finished figuring out the permission scenarios for all of the images I want to include, but I really have to discipline myself not to zone out on such relatively minor issues when I have writing yet to do. If one picture doesn't work, then another will take its place, and I will not worry. I've still got a little over 8,000 words' worth of fish to fry.  I'm still anxious about coming up noticeably short, but there are a few things I know I need to flesh out still, and then there's the chapter overview in the introduction, the preface, and the epilogue to round out.  It should be in the ballpark, at least.

But hey, 4,000 words since Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Storm coming

The news of late from Research Country is fucking horrible. Never mind my chickenshit whining about how this complicates my writing, or changes my theorizations. People are being slaughtered and terrorized up and down RC by multiple oppressive forces, and it's just godawful to read the news updates and see all the photographic slideshows labeled "Warning: Graphic content that may disturb viewers." I am almost unspeakably angry at all of those forces who think that death and destruction are the way forward.  As one of my go-to historians lamented, "May God extirpate them all."

Times like this, there's not much besides music that comforts me.  This song was my jam of the day while writing, and it seems as good as anything right now.  I like how it starts out sounding ominous and scary, and turns beautiful and hopeful through each verse. Please God, may RC see a similar progression, and soon.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oenophilic observation

Humans have been fooling around with representational scratches and doodles for a bloody long time, but it's only within the last 5,000 years or so that people developed coherent drawing systems that represented spoken language.  In this sense, all of human (written) history and literature only goes back this far.

Of course, it's not as though no one said anything cool before then. Many cultures have handed down oral literature that goes back who-in-the-hell-knows-how-far. But a brief survey of the offerings reveals that precious little of this oral literature seems to have been composed in the total absence and ignorance of fermented beverages. Go ahead: I double-dog-dare you to try to find an ancient saga or epic tale that doesn't refer explicitly to wine, beer, or some other fermented alcoholic beverage.

In other words, human literary endeavor seems to have gotten started only after humans figured out how to ferment sugars into alcohol.  No beer, no epic.  No wine, no history.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Pardon me while I go off to enjoy a last glass of Burgundy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

One month

I'm down to one month before a) classes begin, and b) THE BOOK IS DUE.  I am currently attempting to power through syllabus creation so that I can put in my book orders and then restore my attention to the manuscript, which is coming along, but needs — well, just look at the progress meter and you'll see what it needs.  Can someone please arrange for a metric ton of coffee – unground, if you don't mind – to be delivered to my door?  I don't know if I'll have the strength for this otherwise.

But of course, I must, so I suppose I must.

Meanwhile, I can't think of any appropriate song for the phrase "one month," so I'll be a cheapskate and just give you "Two weeks."