Hurry Up and Wait

Curator's Note

Books take awhile. As much as I talked about pre-professionalization in my piece, the book proposal introduced me to a new genre of writing with a small and rather different audience, somehow more opaque than the like-minded thinkers who I like to imagine read my publications. Fortunately, mentors and peers helped me through the process, and I can now say that I am the proud author of two book proposals, one for an edited collection and another for the monograph based on my dissertation. As a new initiate to this process, it still feels odd to write what in word count might be two articles, but whose maximum readership will be a handful of people. Sure, a dissertation draws about the same audience, but there’s a ritual and a degree attached to it that kind of makes up for it. The edited collection seemed to move quickly- I pitched an idea with my co-author directly to an editor at a conference, and she asked for a proposal. We found authors, wrote a proposal, and received a contract. The monograph feels like it is moving in slow motion. I cannot tell if this is perceptual, procedural, coincidental or all of the above. With the edited collection, I’m moving step by step from an idea to an actual manuscript. The first monograph seems to move in reverse. You write the dissertation, revise it into a manuscript, write the proposal, and then find out if anyone thought you should have written the manuscript in the first place. I sometimes feel like I’m back in the familiar limbo of being an A.B.D. while this book is All But Under Contract. Everyone advised me that books take a long time. The most productive way to use this wisdom was to write and re-edit the proposal as soon as possible to get the wheels in motion. The book proposal is out to a few presses now, and fortunately at some of them, there’s “interest”-which while much better than the rejections, is far more ephemeral. More intangible than “accept with revisions.” And while there’s a chapter to write for the edited collection, what can I do with the monograph? Aside from a sample chapter, the proposal is now untethered from the manuscript, more concrete than the nascent book it represents.

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