On Formatting Books

April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Do I HAVE to, though?

Do I HAVE to, though?

For the longest time, I was afraid to combine my dissertation chapters into a single document. There was something overwhelming and do-not-want about that final step, and I only got there maybe a month before I deposited. Despite my reservations, One Single Editable Document quickly established itself as the new standard; in all subsequent revisions I’ve worked with/in that same file. In fact, come to think of it, it’s been the same –that same– .doc for nearly two years, possibly longer if I used, say, my prospectus .doc as the base of copying and pasting operations (given my resistance to certain kinds of change, this is likely but I can’t confirm). It’s had different names, and there’s been a hell of a lot of turnover word-wise, but as long as my dissertation-later-book was a proper manuscript, that’s been the document it’s been. Or however you’d say that.

And I’ve liked working in one document, I now prefer it, it’s comfortable. But per MIT’s author guidelines (there are…let’s say a lot of them), I have to chop my beautiful, intact .doc into nine disarticulated limbs, and I am finding this step much more anxiety-inducing than I expected. I appreciate that my manuscript is (well, was, I’m midway through the turkey-carving) ONE, an easy transfer on a thumbdrive, even if it then takes one million sections to fully load in Word.

Maybe it feels so weird because this formatting and last round of revisions is essentially like taking my firstborn clothes shopping before shipping her off to college. Soon enough she/it will be out of my hands, and that is both a relief and utterly terrifying, which is not a metaphor that has occurred to me until this very moment but is apt I tell you APT.


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