The Evolution of a Book, Pt. 9: Post-Manuscript Doldrums

(Previous entries in this series: Pts. 1234567, and 8.)

You might be asking why I’m talking about the doldrums that set in following submission of the manuscript now instead of after its publication. From my experience, the real emotional letdown occurs once the manuscript is submitted to the editor for copy-editing. There is nothing yet tangible to point out to family and friends or to include in annual faculty activity reports.

I don’t know how others deal with this emotional gap, but here are a few things that I’ve done.

  1. I organize research. If you’re like me, the final weeks prior to submission were not only spent cleaning up prose but also verifying footnotes. I had stacks of research folders on my desk, so I spent parts of several days refiling them, if I thought they would useful in the future, or scanning them into .pdfs if I wanted to keep them but didn’t think they were going to be important to future projects.
  2. I started working on the index. Call me crazy (or call me maybe–that’s my favorite joke right now), but I got a jump on indexing the manuscript. Obviously, page numbers will have to come later, but I had a list of proper names and concepts that I wanted to include, so I organized them. I’m sure I’ll modify the index when the page proofs come in, but at least I’ve saved some time.
  3. I started work on other projects. Like many of you, I have a main project (or two) and other minor projects. I was able to spend time on a couple of articles that were in various stages of completion, worked on book proposals for publishers, and wrote a conference paper.
  4. I took some time to relax. This is an important one that I sometimes forget exists. I read popular fiction, spent time with family, and helped with home-improvement projects. The last one wasn’t so relaxing, but YMMV.

The bottom line: Stay active in some way, whether mentally or physically. That’s good advice to follow all of the time, but I think academic writers, who can become obsessive, need reminding sometimes.

Pt. 10 is here.

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