What follows was written as the Bibs & Blather for the August 2007 Cites & Insights. I’m doing final work on that issue now. This isn’t worth the print space, but it might make an amusing, if very long, post.
Iâ€™m starting this essay on July 4, 2007â€”the same day I start writing the first of several related essays for the August Cites & Insights, getting back to writing after a two-week break.
Why two weeks? ALA Annual came first. Then came the aftereffects of a difficult journey back homeâ€”it took three days to regain reasonable energy and catch up part of a sleep deficit. (â€œSleepingâ€ in Dallas-Fort Worthâ€™s Terminal D was iffy at best). About the same time, I was finishing up the July issue (final copyfitting, etc.) and getting it outâ€”and catching up on blog posts.
Oh, and doing the initial work toward producing a PoD book version of LIBRARY 2.0 AND â€œLIBRARY 2.0â€ and the followup PERSPECTIVE: FINDING A BALANCE: LIBRARIES AND LIBRARIANS. By the time this diary/essay is complete (which may be â€œby the time the August issue is completeâ€), either that book will be available at Lulu or Iâ€™ll have decided itâ€™s not worth the trouble.
Anyway, the holiday gives me a chance to kickstart the writing process. I already knew there was plenty to write about: Folders filled with stuff on MAKING IT WORK, TRENDS & QUICK TAKES, separate essays, NET MEDIAâ€¦and some special folders relating to some essays Iâ€™ve been promising to do for a while, plus one Iâ€™d tried to avoid but find I canâ€™t.Turns out the four essays I have in mind all overlap. Theyâ€™re all real essaysâ€”opinion pieces informed by source material from others, rather than collections of citations and extracts with a few comments thrown in for seasoning.
Iâ€™m not sure how theyâ€™re going to turn out, or whatâ€™s going to wind up in the August issue. So Iâ€™m maintaining this essay as a sort of diary as I go along.
Making the sausage? Most of you probably get the reference alreadyâ€”you donâ€™t want to know how sausage is made or how legislation gets written. You may not want to know just how messy the â€œcreativeâ€ portion of Cites & Insights is. I think some of you might find it interesting to see how much can change between initial intent and final issue. Thus, this odd essay. Or maybe Iâ€™m just postponing actual writing for another 15-20 minutes. You think?
First update, 3 p.m., July 4, 2007
I stopped postponing the actual writing. I was aiming for maybe 3,000 words on disagreement and discussion as the first of three or four essays. I hoped to be done by now. At this point, I have just over 6,000 words (2,000 imported from a Walt at Random post and comments on that post) and Iâ€™m not quite done with the first draft.
The overlap between this essay and the second essay (on the literature) is obvious and growing. My comments on toxicity arenâ€™t going to make it into the essay, and maybe thatâ€™s for the best. My sense that much of the August issue will be about authority, voice, discussion and relevanceâ€”all overlappingâ€”seems likely to be right. Now? Time for a break.
Second update, 4:30 p.m., July 4, 2007
Maybe itâ€™s not time yet to make any decisions about the PoD bookâ€”although, as I think about updating the liblog piece from last year (and maybe the other one from two years ago), the future starts to look a lot more interesting than â€œthe pastâ€ in the form of adding footnotes and index entries.
First, though, letâ€™s see if itâ€™s feasible to finish the draft of this essay. Today.
Last update for July 4, and close of the first essay
It was feasible. Unfortunately, the essayâ€™s now 8,600 words longâ€”way too long if I plan three other essays and other C&I departmentsâ€”and Iâ€™m not sure how Iâ€™m going to cut it without losing context in quoted material. There are worse problems, I knowâ€”but when youâ€™re discussing discussion, itâ€™s important to keep the level of discourse clear and to retain context as much as possible. You may disagree. On to the next essayâ€”but not today, and maybe not tomorrow or the next day.
It wasnâ€™t â€œtomorrow.â€ It is the next day: Friday, July 6 at around 1 p.m. Yesterday included the last movie of the last disc of a 50-movie pack, so I finished off the OFFTOPIC PERSPECTIVE and posted the Disc 12 portion.
I also verified my tentative conclusion of late July 4 regarding the PoD book. Itâ€™s not going to happen for a couple of overlapping reasons:
- Gven ongoing job uncertainties and the dog days of summer, I only have so much energy. Iâ€™d rather devote it to new stuff (including â€œnew oldâ€ stuff, namely revisiting liblogs from last year) than adding a little value to old stuff and making it prettyâ€”particularly since Iâ€™d guess the book version would never reach high two digit sales, much less three digits.
- For the PoD book to make sense at all (that is, for time spent on the footnotes, bibliography, index, cover preparation, etc. to be worth at least minimum wage), Iâ€™d need to price it at $25 or moreâ€”and given that most of the content is from other people, that raises tricky questions I donâ€™t feel like dealing with.
I took off work early today (making up extra time from earlier) to start on the second of what could turn out to be five interlinked essays. I can only hope none of the others will be nearly as long as the first; there is no way Iâ€™m doing a 40,000-word issue.
On the other hand, an â€œall PERSPECTIVESâ€ August issue might not be a terrible thing if itâ€™s not too heavy or too long. The second essay is much more â€œwhere I standâ€ informed by comments from others, on my view of the current literature. It should be easier and shorter. It also begins with a blog postâ€”but this time, portions of the post appear at the start of the essay rather than the end.
Update, 3:15 p.m., Friday, July 6
The second essay, at least in draft form, is a one-shot: I was able to compose it in one sitting. Itâ€™s definitely shorter (around 2,800 words at the moment), if perhaps not as short as it could be. I feel as though I cheated a little at the end, pointing to two [later three] posts rather than fleshing out secondary topics, but I really did want to keep this one relatively short. More than enough for now (thereâ€™s already enough for a full issue, but Iâ€™m just getting started). Next? Either the Gorman/Britannica/linkbait commentary or an essay on ethics, transparency and disclosure. Iâ€™m not sure which.
Saturday morning (7/7/07, for what thatâ€™s worth)â€”the time between breakfast and grocery shopping. Time enough to check mail (all list mail except one LinkedIn invite), blogs (not much this morning, as expected), a few other sitesâ€”and to set the scene for the third essay, after making notes on some source documents last night.
Looks like it will be the Gorman/Britannica/linkbait/authority essay, and the fun part will be keeping it relatively short. Does an issue with a quartet of true Perspectivesâ€”personal essaysâ€”and one offtopic perspective make sense? Maybe yes: Itâ€™s summer and OK for regular departments to take a brief vacation.
Maybe no: A couple of those departments are getting badly backed upâ€¦and thereâ€™s the â€œblog followupâ€ issue looming beyond this one. Maybe it doesnâ€™t matter: Looks like thatâ€™s what will happen, like it or not.
Odd. I was really nervous about two weeks without writingâ€”and now Iâ€™m ahead of the game. Thatâ€™s good in this case: I can print out the essays, let them sit for a while, revise them for better quality and shorter lengthâ€”and get started on the liblog retrospective in the meantime. If Iâ€™m not busy looking for work and wondering whether the promised survival of C&I is really such a safe bet, that is.
Hmm. Just realized that it might make more sense to do more of the source markup and start the PERSPECTIVE this afternoon. Canâ€™t possibly finish it this morning in any case. Thereâ€™s a plan. So Iâ€™ll start the file, give it a title, and let it wait.
First update, 12:45 p.m., July 7, 2007.
â€œMore of the source markupâ€ doesnâ€™t mean â€œall of the source markupâ€â€”thereâ€™s just too much source material (and I was selective in printing commentaries). Itâ€™s now clear that I need to make this one mostly summaries and pointers with relatively little quotation and direct commentary. Maybe one C&I can take four true personal PERSPECTIVEs; it certainly canâ€™t take more than one or two very long PERSPECTIVEs. Splitting these across issues seems absurd given the amount of overlap. So, here we go.
Second update, 4:20 p.m., July 7, 2007
Doneâ€”or at least finished for the first draft. I concluded that it made sense to stop analyzing source material after a certain point, at least if the essay was going to be reasonably brief. Itâ€™s not terse by any means, but at least itâ€™s not much over 3,000 words. Is it worthwhile? Iâ€™m not the judge.
Monday, July 9, 2007: I did â€œother stuffâ€ yesterday, including prep work for the blog projects and finding interesting 50-movie packs for future exercise (two sets of westernsâ€”who woulda thought? and a comedy set Iâ€™m still thinking about).
This essay wonâ€™t get written in one pass because Iâ€™m working â€œnormallyâ€â€”that is, after work (and exercise). That means no more than 60-90 minutes per day, and I donâ€™t believe I can write this one in 60-90 minutes, although I might get the bones of it (and the cited material) in place. We shall see.
First update, 6:30 p.m., July 9, 2007
Off to a good startâ€”cutting Lessigâ€™s statement down to 20% of original size, offering initial notes, cutting about 20% from Houghton-Janâ€™s statement, preceding that with notes on previous Ethics essays. So, tomorrow, to deal with Houghton-Janâ€™s statement, consider the third post (Farkas), and maybe wrap things up with my own stance. Or maybe that will take until Wednesday.
Second update, 4:50 p.m., July 10, 2007
Can I finish this draft today? We shall see.
Final update, 6:15 p.m., July 10, 2007
Yes. Itâ€™s finished and itâ€™s a good lengthâ€”although it can certainly use polishing. So now I have 24,000 words, way more than enough for a summer issue. Iâ€™ll set them aside for a few days (maybe a week) while I get started on some other projects. Maybe then I can cut down the longest essay and make some balanced sense of the four interlinked essays.
1,800 of those 24,300 words (after the first round of revisions) were the B&B you just read (if you’re still here). I trimmed another 600 words and did a fair amount of copyfitting to get it down to 26 pages.When will the August issue appear? Maybe Sunday, maybe not. I’m certainly not planning to compete head-on with HP–and there’s other stuff to complete.