Predictably unpredictable: C&I in progress

I am occasionally reminded (I use the passive because nobody does the reminding) that it’s folly to overplan even the short-term future for Cites & Insights–e.g., the probable contents of the next issue.

Or, for that matter, how much ground I’m likely to cover in a single essay.

Case in point

With the February issue published, shy an essay I’d planned to start but that clearly wouldn’t fit, I updated the tracking form I use (it’s a one-page Word table–all I need in this case) to identify the four essays I planned to prepare for the March issue.

And gathered the printout stubs that would feed into the first three of those essays.

And started on the first one–one where I’ve deliberately avoided focusing on a particular hot topic because I wanted to see how things played out first. (Oddly enough, it’s not the one postponed from February.)

As of about an hour ago, I’m done with the first draft of the article, which combines the comments of quite a few others on a particular developing situation with my own comments (and rejoinders to some of the other comments). Fairly typical of Perspectives, apart from the occasional “On…” that’s almost entirely original essay. (In this case, about one-third of the material is my comments and paraphrases, about two-thirds quoted.)

There’s only one little problem–or maybe it’s one big problem.

That’s the first of four planned essays. It’s also just over 25,000 words–after a lot of trimming along the way, and one full editing pass.


So this:

  • The January issue is just over 25,000 words–and 30 pages.
  • The February issue is just under 23,000 words–and 30 pages.

In other words, what we have here is an issue-length essay. Which isn’t really what I had in mind.

On the other hand…

In three or four earlier cases, I wound up with an issue that was entirely on one topic or nearly so, even though I’d originally intended otherwise and was a little reluctant to put out such a focused issue. (There are also cases where I planned a single-focus issue all along.)

In general, those single-focus issues have been reasonably well read, and the “other essays” just got delayed a month. (It’s a mixed bag, actually. Three single-essay issues are among the most widely-read essays and issues ever. Three others are middling.)


I’ll start on the next essay (or write a column, or do some non-computer stuff), let this sit for a week or so, go over it again, and decide.

Chances are, this essay will be the March issue, and I’ll have a head start on a more varied April issue. And I’ll be reminded that C&I’s flow of topics (and issue sizes) is predictably unpredictable. Which is probably a good thing.

What’s the topic? A few of you on FriendFeed may have a clue. Otherwise, let’s just say that it’s one that cuts across several of my ongoing foci and probably affects pretty much every public and academic library in the U.S.

2 Responses to “Predictably unpredictable: C&I in progress”

  1. Mark says:

    As you can guess, Walt, I am looking forward to it. Predictably unpredictable is a good thing.

  2. walt says:

    Thanks. It will definitely appear; the only issues are how much I cut it down or revise it, and whether it’s an issue all to itself. On the latter question, I’d guess it’s 90% probable that it will be. (And this is one that may generate a vastly-reduced version at PLN, since it’s a topic library leaders need some familiarity with.)