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Thursday, 24 March 2011

April 2002, getting ready to travel

I didn't know it then, but I was shifting into a new life phase with much more overseas travel. The next couple of months saw me in Turkey, eastern Europe, Ireland, and then the USA, before heading home, rather worn out, just in time for a book launch.

April 16, 2002

Just as I was getting my car out of the garage, a van pulled into the driveway. I have my very final too-late-now page proofs, and the book has gone to the printer. Because I am off overseas, leaving the children and the dog to mind each other and the house, I have been closing down lists, and sorting a few basics. I now have four firm ideas for books, three of them to follow after rockets, which now exceeds 30,000 words, and that is about all I will do. I have been corresponding with amateur rocketeers all over the world, and getting their ideas on the important bits. It is amazing just how much people will share, and I have a few possible leads to follow in the US.

April 2, 2002

Today I have created a short radio talk to record when Bittersweet comes out, covering a few of the highlights like the origin of sugar in New Guinea, 9000 years ago, and how it spread around the world, and how it drove a horrid slave trade. Many years before I started this book, I worked in New Guinea (Papua, to be precise) but I never realised that I was at the birthplace of something so major.

I have just had the PDF file. It all looks good, and I have been through my marked-up copy of the ms, making the page breaks match. Now I will have to fire up the laptop, because the main machine, for some reason, makes a mess of the indexing. The PDF came from Melbourne (typesetters) to the publishers (many suburbs away) and then me in about half an hour, and by the time the publishers open up tomorrow, the index will be there. And you couldn't do THAT in the bad old days . . .

April 1, 2002

Well, progress is less than I had hoped. I am up to 24 000 words of reasonably clear text, rather than the 35 000 words I hoped to have, but I have been working in some of the more difficult areas. I will probably be close to 50% of the final target by tonight. The main point is that while I set a sort of target, I don't stress out if it is not met, and I don't furiously churn a few thousand words to meet the target.

I have now located the places of interest in Prague and Budapest for a rocket-minded person, and got well and truly sidetracked into the geology of Prague. I have also started marking down the geological sites I want to get to in Ireland — the forthcoming trip is going to yield two books, not one.

The very last proofs of Bittersweet should arrive on Tuesday as a PDF file: one last look, re-do the index, and off it goes: I have already seen the cover art. It is bits and pieces trickling through like that which make the work worth it, but the Big One is having a completed book in your hands.

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