Thursday, December 16, 2010

Deja vu all over again

I am in the final stages of preparing a manuscript for publication. This book is Henry Ford's War: Law, Antisemitism and Speech in the Tribal 1920s (title subject to complete revision by publisher). Stanford University Press has it, and I'm trying to meet a Dec. 31 submission deadline so that the book will appear before the end of 2011. (Why it still takes so long to produce books in the digital age is a question for another post.)

Here's my beef for today. Before I turn in this manuscript, I am checking every single footnote, every last citation, primary and secondary sources alike. And I am shocked, just shocked, at how many times I can't find the documents I had at my fingertips when I wrote the book. Admittedly, pieces of the prose date back to 2002, but I wrote most of the text in the past 2 years.

Eventually, I find most of what I'm looking for. But there's always the odd document or two that simply refuses to surface, forcing a rewrite or other workaround. Here's my real worry: I don't know if I'm being overly fastidious or if this exercise reveals just how poor my technique is. After all, who's to know what would happen if I took a third pass through this thing? Pinpoint accuracy in footnotes matters to the point of obsessiveness, but I'm particularly inspired to get everything right in this book because of the messy state of affairs in the Ford historiography. So maybe I'm just carrying extra baggage here. Comments, reactions, tranquillizer suggestions all welcome.