I handed off the Butterflies of Tennessee manuscript yesterday to go to New York for technical editing. The guy at Goin’ Postal put my manuscript into an envelope and said it should get there in good shape. I think the word should set off a low decibel, yet recognizable, security alarm inside my head. I told myself that everything would be fine and started for the exit, but before I stepped outside into the sunshine, I did an about-face, got back in line, and requested an upgrade from my envelope to a sturdy cardboard box. It cost an additional $6.
It has been 2 years and 8 months getting the manuscript to this point. Data have been analyzed; flight periods and ranges have been checked; and two butterfly species have been added to the species accounts. Locations listed in “Good Places To Go Butterflying” have been revisited, references have been listed, a glossary has been compiled, and the checklist has been revised.
Botanists from deep space changed the scientific names and rearranged the families of many plants just as this manuscript was in the final stages. This has required some back-pedaling, but thanks to the fine botanists in Tennessee, revisions have been made to the manuscript to reflect the current changes.
Care has been taken to make this book as user-friendly as possible. There are different protocols for butterflies and plants in the United States. Which one to use? There are different opinions as to the physiographic regions in Tennessee, but only one could be chosen for the book. Text could follow several style protocols and a choice had to be made. These are all consistency decisions.
Lately, I have decided that “Garden Tips” needed to be edited from gardeners in 3 areas of Tennessee—West, Middle, and East—in order to reflect differences in the areas.
Business decisions had to be made about setting up bank accounts and hiring an attorney to help with contracts, trademarks, and copyrights. It has been very handy having a CPA for a husband and partner.
As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you are busy with other things.” So while I was busy with the book, life happened—celebrations, condolences, and commitments. Ruminating on life’s experiences is what makes a writer a writer—shortcut yourself out of life and there’s no material for future stories. The book has taken longer to complete than I thought it would. I am finding that this is true of most things in life that are worthwhile—education, marriage, child raising, caring for the elderly, physical fitness, and spiritual growth. When all of these events are over, however, including the publication of Butterflies of Tennessee, I want to look back and say that I gave each my best shot.
Now you know why I wanted a cardboard box for the manuscript!
©Rita Venable 2013