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Endnotes are not my favorite thing

October 3, 2011

I am going to be sad to part ways with the Marys (Godwin and Wollstonecraft). We have two months left together. I turn them in to my editor on Dec. 1. Of course, I will still be working on them in the spring. But it will be different as presumably there will be a third person involved. Susanna Porter. Her latest book is The Paris Wife, which feels more glamorous than my Marys largely because it has no footnotes. Currently, my ms has bracketed instruction sprinkled throughout. Here is a sample taken randomly from the text:

Shelley’s goal in life was to free himself (and others) from tyranny. Of course, his definition of tyranny did not always coincide with others. As a little boy, he shrugged off the limits his father tried to place on him, reasonable though they may seem to us (no snakes in the house; no playing with fire). He set off explosions, ran away whenever his father attempted to discipline him, and terrorized his sisters with ghost stories. One night, while tinkering with electricity, he set his parents’ baronial estate on fire. [DO NOTE (TRY HOLMES)]

There are over 400 pages of this sort of thing. I hesitate to do the math, but say there are two undone notes a page, that would mean I have 800 notes to do. My niece has mentioned that she might have some time to help me. But how do you help someone who writes: “[In gray book somewhere in the middle.]”? Or [maybe p79]. Page 79? of what? I hear my instructions to my students ringing loudly in my ears. “Remember to keep track of your sources, you guys.” They think I say this with righteousness, from a standpoint of sublime competence. Ha!

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