Tuesday, March 23, 2010

at last (and about time, too)

I can't expect anyone else to be as excited, and as relieved, about this 1,100 page manuscript as I am: the Victorian volume of the New Cambridge History of English Literature, composed of thirty-three contributors' chapters (that being said, there may be one or two readers of this blog who are, at this very moment, breathing a deep, deep sigh of relief that their labors have not been in vain. Rest assured, dear readers - none of the remarks that follow pertain to you...). Here it is - all printed out, from title page to "Notes on Contributors" - ready to be xeroxed and mailed tomorrow. Unbelievable.

The task of editing this nearly drove me crazy - never again will I take it upon myself to herd such a large and unruly number of literary cats. Even once all the chapters were in - and that took a long, long while - there were other problems: the non-arriving bibliographies; the apparent inability of certain people to be internally consistent in the style of their own footnotes or citations - let alone to follow any recognized style manual (and it's only at the last minute that one realizes that certain people never put a period at the end of their footnotes, say). Then there was the bibliography sent in an email that crashed Word every time I tried to cut and paste any or all of it. The chapters which were mysteriously formatted - and again, which sometimes disappeared on the screen. The fact (I cottoned onto this early on, though) that some submissions turned up on standard English A4 shaped pages, and others on American letter size. Then there was the senior scholar - who will go unmentioned - who simply did not provide any citation other than - say - "Dickens" or "Tennyson." Then there are the English people with no understanding of American geography when it comes to citing the place names for publishers - and vice versa. And then I started to double check the accuracy of people's quotations. And and and. Clearly, I was never meant to be a copy editor, or indeed, possibly, any kind of editor at all, given the length of time this has taken to see the light of day - around six and a half years from when I first submitted a proposal. But it's done, and I am so very, very happy to be sending it off.


  1. PAWS UP to you, Kate, and a full-throated WOOF of congratulations! My typist can sympathize, having taken on a similar project that was much smaller in scale. And then of course there is the Most Overdue Project in American Publishing, which is also an editorial project, though not of this variety.

    There is a word Moose is determined to learn that perhaps you will want to consider using the next time you are invited to take on such a project: NO! (the wildest word in the English language, according to Ms. Dickinson).

    And yet, of course, it will be wonderful to see the BOOK when at long last it is finished and makes its way out into the world. That will justify all your hard work and painstaking attention. Congrats again!

  2. What a fantastic achievement, well done!

  3. Thank you, dear friends! I suspect the book will be much in demand for pressing flowers and propping open heavy doors. I still keep looking around for it preying on my conscience, and finding it's not there (for now. Am not looking forward to herding those 32 other contributors through copy-editing corrections and proof reading...)