Saturday, 18 July 2009

Poets Have It Easy...Part 2

So there I was, presented with this chapter I'd already proofed some time ago - years in fact, as the book on 'The Fold' was first put together by a couple of academics at Warwick, who then looked for some time for a publisher, found one in Palgrave Macmillan, then the department (as they so often do) changed, staff changed, the brief and direction changed, the people in question left Warwick, took a while finding another couple of editors willing to take the book on...and finally the new editors had secured the task, and got back to the original contributors of the book. One of whom was our independent scholar. 
   This time the chapter arrived with corrections and editor's suggestions in notes...some in Dutch. Yes, that's right, whatever word processing programme the editor was using on the Continent, it had peppered the first couple of pages in little boxes - of Dutch. I gazed at it, utterly perplexed...until, I reasoned, anything in boxes like that must surely have standardized meanings which I might be able to work out from the context...? And after a few days, it dawned on me! yes, they referred to stuff like paragraph indentures and the like. I edited it into the required format as best I could. The fifteen or so changes which I had to either change or highlight for the author to change were a task that wasn't the pleasantest or easiest in the world. The changes the author had to make (being dyslexic) were no joke either. Never mind quotes, paraphasings were to be issued with page numbers. Much flicking through editions so battered and read and loved that both covers and date had fallen off long ago...And I sent it off again. Many e-mails from the editor and back from the author about which editions were being used so that he could find seemingly every page and reference match up, later...(and hair tearing on the part of our beleaguered author) everything was finally given the thumbs up. The editor wrote saying that the book should be with our author sometime this year...And then the request came for the contributor's bio. I wrote one, putting the best way I could that the author was an 'independent scholar'...and have heard nothing since. Will I or the independent scholar see this much sweated over chapter appear between the covers of a book at last??
I'm still waiting...

   So, for all the poets and novelists and short story writers that think the waiting and the rejections are just too much from time to time - pity the poor independent scholar. They work harder, write longer books (on the Collective website a single article in the Philosophy section can be up to 60,000 words - there are well over a quarter of a million words of philosophy on it and that was as of months ago), read harder to read or understand books to hone their craft, can be as good as you please, and without an 'official institutional affiliation' can still get work rejected up to the wire...And even paid heads of department who only sell books in the hundreds, and are expected to do a lot of their own promotion, do it for no money just the kudos...Feeling less hard done by now?  

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