More on the Writing Process

Today’s a slow writing day, which is to be expected since I’m not technically in the middle of something. I “finished” a draft of chapter 2, except that what I thought was going to fit into chapter 2 has now split into chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 3 is a bit tough because I have to move between sound culture stuff and more institutional history stuff and do so fluidly and in a way that makes sense. To blow off some steam, I am writing this blog entry. (There are pics here, but I guess it’s only me who has the rss issue with images at this point).

As I progress on a writing project, my desk gets ever messier. So this morning, I cleaned off the desk, reshelved the stack of books that had been accumulating in piles as I pulled out quotes and cites, put some stuff away, and took other stuff out of my file drawer, arranging it in piles on the floor thus:

Moving clockwise from the upper right, there is a small stack of articles I think I am done with but may not be. At 6:00 is the piece of paper with the original outline for chapter 3 before I split it into two, and it’s sitting on Ken Pohlmann’s reference book on digital audio. Above that is a 1978 state of the art review of hearing science, with three excellent chapters on psychoacoustics that are relevant to the material I will be writing about next. Next to that is a pile of actual copies of the test reports from MPEG in 1990-1. Tasty.

Meanwhile, on the desk:

I have been playing with post-it notes. I broke down the chapter into modules or “discussions” I need to have in place, and keep moving them around until I find a satisfactory order. Then I talk to Carrie about it and change them. On the left corner of the desk is a printout of the draft of the new chapter 3 (formerly the second half of chapter 2) which is a mess, but has a bunch of material for editing and revision. And at least 10 pages that I can just cut now that I have the actual MPEG tests. Next to that is the blue “ginormous binder” assembled for me by an undergrad RA who wishes to be known as Agent 99 (this was a couple years back where it was still respectably square to make a Get Smart reference). Below that is the actual text of the MPEG audio standards, a pile of documents pertaining to the history of MPEG, and the text of talks that I’ve given since April, scribbled all over (and there are notes all over the file folder in which I store them as well.

On the left monitor screen is my “to do list” for the book, which is a running tab of things that need to be done in chapters other than the one I’m working on. On the right, the book document is open, and underneath is the powerpoint for a 2005 talk on podcasting from which I had to borrow back an image I can no longer find, the ever-expanding folder for the mp3 book is also visible. Many of my “primary source” documents for this chapter are in .pdf form. Beneath the left monitor screen is another pile of reports from research assistants and two CD cases for DVDs of dub and electronica.

Tomorrow’s a big day at the office. I will get back to writing around noon on Thursday for 4 or 5 days.

Oh, and the dual monitor setup is amazing for writing. Now that so many of my documents are in electronic form, I can have the source open on the left screen and the document I’m writing on the right screen. Or I can flip back and forth between Endnote and Word, or a document and Endnote, or just look at a grain elevator outside Saskatoon.