Mary Beard on the last stages of writing a book – SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard has an interesting piece on the last stages of writing a book – SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.


Ok I know you will think that you have heard this before, but the book is now within 1000 words of being completely finished. I am just tying up the epilogue, and if I get a good day at it tomorrow I may wrap it up (if I dont, then, yes, it could drag on till Thursday…after which I have no leeway … hope I am not tempting fate here).

When I say completely finished, I don’t actually mean completely, of course. I mean that the creative, staring-into-the-abyss bit has been done. Enough so that if I were to collapse and die tomorrow, it could be published in my name. What still remains are some of the lengthy, nitty gritty, frustrating and anxiety making stages. I mean things like the acknowledgements, where the terror that you will forget to thank someone who has been instrumentally helpful is almost as bad as staring into the abyss, the photo-captions and selection (what are the chances of inadvertently getting one the wrong way round?), the maps (worst of all) and the Further Reading and Timeline (on which I have to say I have had some help… thank you Hannah, in case I forget later). continues here.

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3 Responses to Mary Beard on the last stages of writing a book – SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

  1. Jeremy says:

    Reblogged this on Open Geography and commented:
    Looking forward to this book. Interesting she finds the maps the worst of all to do! I wonder why? I always look at the site maps provided. It raises the question of the difficulties of writing–not just the man bit of an article or book, but the whole package.

    I remember in my last book I did all the permission-seeking to use illustrations. I developed an email which explained this was a low-selling book (<2,000 copies per my contract though it has gone on to sell more than 3,000 which is very nice!) and in all but one case I think they let me have the image for free. I think that most people are willing to let you have imagery, but it did mean for me keeping clearly organized files on who I'd asked, whether I was waiting for an answer, or whether permission had been granted. I kept all this in case of a copyright challenge for years. There was only one case where I felt I'd pushed it (the surrealist map of the world) which had an untraceable copyright holder (Denis Wood had previously tried to track it down and I used the credit line he'd used for it. The map dates from ~1923 so right on the cusp of copyright law anyway).

    I relate to the fear of missing out an important acknowledgement!

  2. Pingback: Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week | Progressive Geographies

  3. Pingback: Jeremy Crampton on maps, permissions and Asterix | Progressive Geographies

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