Well, it's official. We had a little bit of fussing over the picture to use on the front cover, which it turns out to fit with the publisher's design means we can't use all the range of colors we thought we would, and then we had another round of fussing on the exact copy for the back cover. Get me to editing copy and I can turn into a perfect demon, turning a couple of paragraphs into dozens of times their volume of infinitesimal improvements and subtle variations of meaning. There's a point where that's productive, particularly in straightening out parallel sentence structures. (I'm really fond of parallel sentences.) There's also a point where it turns pathological, and only a hard deadline will save me.
However. All of that passed, and we're satisfied with it and have what should be, barring catastrophe, the final draft of the book, all pictures, and the cover material submitted to the publishers. If there's no unexpected delays all of this raw LaTeX will be processed into a textbook by the end of the calendar year. It's very satisfying to be done with it.
Obviously the frustrations involved have already been wiped from my mind: I've got the feeling like I should try writing another. Since having an audience larger than my immediate family would be good, this suggests writing something non-academic, for the popular market, although my natural habits suggest writing a mathematics or physics book, which is already pretty well glutted with books explaining the space race, relativity-flavored weirdness, quantum mechanics-flavored weirdness, or prime numbers. I have noticed there don't seem to be books attempting to explain statistical mechanics to an audience that doesn't speak mathematics. This could indicate the existence of an unsatisfied market. It could also indicate that the market is quite well aware of how interested it is in statistical mechanics and would slap me down hard for writing about something that takes so long to get to the weird parts. (But it does feed into quantum mechanics if you go far enough.)
Maybe I'll try outlining a proposal anyway, to see.
Trivia: While the Eagle Pencil Company did make a special pencil for inventor Thomas Edison, sources disagree about what its proportions were. Source: The Pencil, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: The Invention of Tradition, Edited by Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger.