Closing down the volume

It doesn’t help that it comes right around Thanksgiving time, also a time I’m most likely to get a cold or upper respiratory virus (which seems to be what I have now), also a time that the Season’s Unjollies start to set in…

But somehow it takes quite a while, at least in terms of energy and days “lost” to either productive writing or, even better, goofing off, before a volume of Cites & Insights is really and truly Done in my eyes. I believe I’ve finally reached that point for volume 5 today, which is actually on the early side.

Here’s the steps:

  • Close the final issue for the year and turn it into a published C&I. I’ve described this process (in an unusual case) before, if briefly. This time, I closed the issue right around November 21 (I believe), recognized there was no way I was going to get it down to a reasonable size, but finally had it ready to publish on November 24. (But because that was Thanksgiving–we celebrate a day later in my family–I consider November 26, when the issue was uploaded and publicized, to be the actual pub. date.)
  • Adding index entries for the issue usually takes another day or two. I think I also got that done on November 24 (staying out of my wife’s way and washing pots, pans, dishes left a lot of time…).
  • The first special end-of-volume task is to prepare the index: Correct at least the most obvious errors and inconsistencies in the entries from each issue (don’t worry, there are loads of other inconsistencies still there!), prepare a “final” Word index (I use a dummy Word document consisting entirely of index entries, with a chapter break for each issue to build a running index), and then turn that “final” index into a publishable index.
  • What’s involved there? First, global-replacing the chapter/page strings with issue/page strings (e.g., “1001:” becomes “Ja “). Then, in a simultaneous pass, fixing the orthography and eliminating duplicate issue labels. (Orthography: This year I left journal and book titles both with first-caps rather than caps on almost every word. But I still italicize book, magazine, TV show and similar titles and change C&I section and essay names to small caps. (Citations to articles elsewhere appear in quotes, which results in Word putting them all at the beginning of the alphabet; I set those off as a separate index.) Oh yes: Since the index is designed to be useful in a bound volume of C&I I prepend a two-page document, the cover sheet, to the index.
  • That process can take anywhere from three days to two weeks; it’s not something that’s so much fun I just want to stick with it… In any case, the index was ready to publish on November 29, and I published it on November 30.
  • From external appearances, that’s it: The volume’s complete. But from my perspective, there are three more steps:
  • Print the full set of issues in clean duplex form on good paper, without three-hole punching. I did this on my cheap little multifunction this time–yes, an inkjet, but with Office Depot “Color inkjet” paper (24lb., very opaque, 99+ brightness, very smooth), the results are magnificent. (And the feeder is simple enough so that manual duplexing–printing all the odd-numbered pages in an issue, putting the paper stack back in, then printing all the even-numbered pages–worked perfectly, with no double feeds or problems.) Finished that yesterday, December 2.
  • Get it bound. I don’t know where I’d have to go or how much I’d have to pay for proper binding, and the local Kinko’s (oh, sorry, Fedex Kinko’s) no longer does tape perfect binding–hasn’t since 2002. So I settle for velo binding with the usual black vinyl back and transparent cover. No spine to write on, and it doesn’t stand up as straight as I’d like, but it’s durable (and C&I has a wide enough binding margin). Just did that today, December 3.
  • And the most important step, delayed thanks to illness (as were the previous steps) and general lassitude: Get off my fat…well, and start writing again. More to the point, start working on material for Volume 6. I’ve just begun that process: Not the 2,000 words (and part of a paid column) I was hoping for, but even 500 words is a break from 10 days without writing (unless you count Walt at random

So there it is. Volume 5 is now really, truly done…even if it’s clear that stories from Volume 5 will require followup/feedback space in Volume 6, Issue 1. Coming sometime in late December (or, possibly, early January.) With, I think, a new, sometimes lighthearted, PDF-only feature. More about that when the time is right.

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