Putting yourself out in the world is difficult and scary, even for the most confident of us. The same goes for putting your writing work out in the world. Perhaps you’ve spent months or years perfectly crafting its prose, but now you must offer it to the wider public for acceptance.
In this regard, finding a publisher is almost like online dating. You have to put out a lot of feelers, pay attention to the deal breakers on both sides of the fence, and get used to rejection. But finding the right publisher and editor to work with, culminating in holding your book baby after the process, is priceless.
February is chock-full of presidential celebrations. The 12th was Lincoln’s birthday. The 15th was President’s Day. Yesterday was Washington’s birthday. Clearly these men have impacted politics and wider society with their decisions, but many have also recorded their wisdom in books.
Sorry for the radio silence last week, folks. As an editor, I’ve never been a huge fan of appendices, especially unnecessary ones. Apparently, my own appendix felt the same toward me, so we parted ways on Tuesday. As my editor cousin Terrey put it: “Delete and close up!”
Relating to books, the word appendix was first used in the 1540s to mean “subjoined addition to a document or book,” from Latin appendix“an addition, continuation, something attached,” from appendere. Appendices can kind of be catch-alls—they are where the stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere goes due to content, length, or what-have-you. You have a lot of data that won’t fit in text? Appendix! You have some handouts that don’t go with any specific chapter? Appendix!
I know they are necessary for the extra info, but in my editor brain, I always see them as a failure. They consist of puzzle pieces I couldn’t find a spot for. Maybe I need to be more fluid with my understanding of texts in the future.
Q. How do I cite in text two works in the same year by authors with the same surname? I have (MacDonald 1999) for both K. A. MacDonald and R. H. MacDonald, each of whom wrote an article that year. It seems awkward to refer to them as (e.g.) “R. MacDonald” when I’ve given none of the other authors a first initial.
A. It may strike you as awkward, but it is conventional in such cases to clarify by adding initials or full names if necessary. Please see CMOS 15.21: “Where two or more works by different authors with the same last name are listed in a reference list, the text citation must include an initial (or two initials or a given name if necessary).”
Q. It seems that all types of dashes are treated without spaces in Chicago. Is the use of a hyphen with spaces ever acceptable (word – word)?
A. Chicago style omits spaces around hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. There are exceptions where a single space is allowed after a hyphen or en dash:
left- and right-hand margins
nos. 1– (1980–)
Some kinds of writing (such as in some other languages, or in poetry) follow their own rules, but Chicago style never calls for spaces on both sides of a hyphen.
Lesley once ate the contents of a Christmas Harry & David package that arrived on her doorstep addressed to the prior residents of her apartment instead of sending it back. That was the day she lost her Christmas shopping karma. It has never been recovered.
Rachel once saw Bill Nye in the Seattle airport. Before signing autographs and getting his photo taken, he made out with a leggy redhead. Rachel thinks that is the moment her brother first became interested in being a scientist.
It’s Groundhog Day! Today, we find out whether we have six more weeks of winter ahead of us (though we have a high of 60 today in Bloomington, so I’m not sure where winter is). Somewhere along the way, we came to believe that mild weather in midwinter (which we are most definitely experiencing here) meant a stormy, cold end to winter, as we see with this Old English saying:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
Only time will tell whether Punxsutawney Phil predicts correctly, but shadows are an ominous way of telling the future, right?
The archetype of the shadow is strong throughout literature, often as a symbol of death (even biblically: “the valley of the shadow of death”). In this way, death is shown as an unknown that we can vaguely define. William Sharpe says it well when noting that “in its simplest terms, the . . . insubstantial shadow is an idea or image of a thing, and not the thing itself.”
Then there’s the term foreshadowing, which means “to give a suggestion of (something that has not yet happened).” This technique is used often in literature to engage the reader. It adds the necessary tension to give the reader just enough information to remain curious. As Sharpe writes,
The shadow-substance tension that underlies so much writing about human perception forms an integral part of this process, guiding readers toward a substantial “something”—an object, an event, a revelation—elsewhere in space or time that will fulfill the expectations raised by the chimeras of the present moment.
We also find more playful instances of shadows in literature. The best example, of course, is Peter Pan. In this case, the shadow helps separate the fact of the real world with the fantasy of Peter’s world. Peter losing his shadow divorces him from the reality of Wendy’s world. To Peter, shadows can wander off and thimbles are kisses. That a shadow—often meant to be dark and foreboding—can be reworked into something so light, while also showing the dichotomy of Peter and Wendy’s experiences, is, quite frankly, genius.
So, Punxsutawney Phil, what happens if your shadow appears, tips its hat, and runs off?