austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'll be writing more in a week or two

I've got a little bit of news in my real professional-type line of work, incidentally. Not that I've got a job back in academia or even have an interview, although one of the places I've applied to has actually asked my reference-writers for letters of reference, but in the other sideline of things there are the textbooks that I contribute general exposition to. The second one is still wending its way through its publisher, but the publisher for the first one is interested in seeing if a second edition could be made from the first book. (Got that?)

So what's been taking up thought time this week beyond moral outrage at the concluding Mark Trail wife-and-deer-abuse storyline has been reading the first book over in reasonably full detail and thinking of what to change for the second edition. The publisher hasn't got any firm guideline but would like to see something like a quarter of the book gain new content, preferably by adding things which hadn't rated mention before. I'm an easy writer for other people to edit, but when I start looking at what my own writing is missing I get vicious early and often.

For the most part the most introductory/exposition-heavy chapters, which I did the most writing for, I still like and I think it gets to about what the book ought to have been. It's the later chapters which contain what are essentially papers rewritten that I'm least happy with. My casual reading-through allowed me to produce about four pages of handwritten yet barely comprehensible notes about what ought to be changed. Some of these are simple, like ``13.5: Bad section title'' or ``Are energies here normalized to Chapter 9's?'' (which is a real problem, because the energy calculations allow for a constant multiple which makes no difference in the physical properties, and may therefore be chosen for computational convenience, but trying to make different applications consistent is something my coauthor and I never actually managed). Others are just highlighting stray sentences which probably made sense once upon a time but not in the actual book as published.

Overall it's hard for me to resist the impulse to just write down ``should be better'' for section after section. If I can put all this together into a coherent report I should have a decent proposal for what will be different in the Second Edition. I know whatever else changes that Galois still shoots first.

Trivia: Gerardus Mercator's textbook on how to write italic letters included three pages on writing the ampersand; this was more than for any of the alphabetical letters. Source: Mercator, Nicholas Crane.

Currently Reading: Flash Of Genius And Other True Stories Of Invention, John Seabrook.

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