Wednesday, 14 March 2012

08:52 – I just sent our comments on the QC1 galley proofs of the biology book off to our editor.

I had the same experience I have with every book. When I finish a book, I’m always unhappy with it, thinking about all the stuff I should have done differently, all the stuff I should have done that I didn’t do, all the stuff that I did that I shouldn’t have done, and so on. Then a month or so passes and I get the galley proofs. As I start checking them, I always find myself thinking, “Hey, this is actually a pretty good book.” By the time I finish checking them, I’m thinking, “Hey, this is a really good book.”

Not that there aren’t changes I’d have made if it had been possible to do so. The book in QC1 galley proof form is 366 pages. If only I’d had twice that page count, I could have done a much better job. Of course, if it weren’t for Brian Jepson insisting that I wrap things up by a certain date so that we can go to production, I’d end up years later with a 14,000 page manuscript, still complaining to Brian that I needed just a bit more time and a bit more page count.

Oh, well. It’s finished, and it’s a really good book even if it is only 5% as long as I’d like it to be.

15 thoughts on “Wednesday, 14 March 2012”

  1. Bob,

    All your books are great. The best part is you’re still kicking and I’m sure you’d answer any question someone had through email or your web sites.

  2. I must say that all of your books are not only authoritative, but enjoyable reads, too. And even if I don’t understand something at first, if I just consider those words on the page more carefully, I finally get it.

  3. Oh, well. It’s finished, and it’s a really good book even if it is only 5% as long as I’d like it to be.

    I thought the goal was to create a book appropriate for a high school level biology lab course, not a book more appropriate for four years of college level biology labs…

  4. It’s like writing an essay at uni, you’ve been given a 3000 word essay to write but you want to write a PhD thesis length thesis on the topic because it’s interesting and you don’t know what to leave out.

  5. I have had that experience a few times, both in writing and in speaking, and in an academic setting and a monthly magazine op-ed I was gonna write, where I was not so gainfully employed once.

    As a grad student TA one day, I had the task of delivering a lecture (my first) on the historical background to Oxford’s Henriad, under the direct and immediate supervision of my MA thesis adviser. We walked together across the campus to the Science Building (natch) where I would speak in an amphitheater looking up at sixty or so seated underclassmen. All during that long walk I muttered to myself “I’m a dead man..I’m a dead man…I’m a dead man…” knowing full well that I would botch it completely.

    Well, I got there, opened up my notes and started holding forth. I guess about an hour or so later my adviser finally interrupted and asked for a minute at the end of HER class to talk to them, as I had been allotted twenty minutes. I was fully prepared to go on yakking the rest of the day, as I had inhaled everything there was to know about the subject for days ahead of time.

    I repeated this performance a few months later when tasked with giving another short talk on Dante and Virgil at Yale (how’s that for name-dropping, what an asshole, huh?) in roughly equal amounts of English, Latin and medieval Italian. They had to hook me out of there again.

    Good thing I never finished the doctorate; imagine the hordes of students I would have bored to tears by now.

  6. At least they mentioned that he was a political essayist and not just the author of you-know-what and Animal Farm, both required reading back in my suburban Beantown high school in the 60s. I am given to understand that our Brit cousins have those effin cameras all over the place now, there is no escaping them. Home of Magna Carta. Very nice.

    And that piece about women discombobulating men also mentioned, I think, because I read it the other day, that it was pretty or beautiful women who caused this phenomenon.

  7. Yeah, we watch a lot of British TV, and those cameras are a frequent plot device, with detective reviewing footage from a murder or whatever, tracking the suspect back from camera to camera. In fact, they don’t work anywhere near that well. The dirty little secret is that they haven’t done anything to reduce crime rates *or* increase apprehension and conviction rates. They’re a gross intrusion on privacy and don’t provide any of the supposed benefits.

    I have the same recollection as you do. It was only extremely attractive women that discombobulated men. I’m sure that’s due to a phenomenon that has, so far as I’m aware, never been studied or reported in the literature. When women are in sex-mode, their brains remain connected and fully functional. When men are in sex-mode, our brains are disconnected, and we operate purely on instinct.

  8. This is, well, shockingly sad.

    Yes, it is. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t get it at first. My first thought was that Orwell was my age when he died. Althought after a bit of thought it hit me. The truly sad thing though, is how many people could look at this, even with Chuck’s hint and the obvious framing of the photo won’t get it.

  9. When men are in sex-mode, our brains are disconnected, and we operate purely on instinct.

    Kind of like being on drugs, — only better.

  10. When men are in sex-mode, our brains are disconnected, and we operate purely on instinct.

    Well, of course, where do you think the extra blood flow comes from?

  11. I guess we all know this about men, eh?

    On the cameras, yeah, they’re basically useless EXCEPT, of course, as a tool for the State to intimidate the populace and invade our privacy at will, while some huckleberry law enforcement cretins crack up and giggle over somebody picking their nose or scratching their crotch.

    What we are gonna start seeing a lot more of are all these drones, in varying sizes and capabilities, spying on every damn thang. Including drones in private ownership. Gonna be a wild decade or two or three before some of us check out. Personally I can’t wait to see these buggers buzzing around—skeet, anyone?


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