Over the past few weeks my variation on the classic child's bedtime prayer has been, not "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," but "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord that someone will know that my edited collection on children's literature is SO CLOSE to being ready to send to the publisher and so I pray the Lord that someone will do the necessary tiny final tweaking and assembling to submit it so that those other fourteen authors who have their work in the volume will not have toiled in vain. Amen."
And then I took my tumble and lost a full week of work, and of course I found out that the tiny final tweaking was not as tiny as I had hoped it would be. It might be easy for some of YOU to put fifteen chapters, plus an introduction, into one single file in Microsoft Word without losing the sequencing of the end notes for each chapter, but it wasn't easy for me. All of the endnotes bunched up together in one huge batch, and inexplicably they became renumbered in roman numerals rather than regular normal people numbers, so I was looking at notes with numbers like cxxxvliii. Or something equally terrible!
Still achy from my fall, I put my laptop in my backpack and trundled off to the university, where Karen, our tech support wizard. sat patiently by my side as I tried to sort it all out. I learned how to create a section break firewall between each chapter; I fixed the endnotes (mostly); I obliterated the hated roman numerals; I finished writing the introduction for the whole book (a vastly easier task than sorting out the endnotes); and yesterday I SENT IT OFF TO THE PUBLISHER. Hooray!
The book has been a labor of many months, beginning with the conference I hosted on ethics and children's literature at DePauw University last September. Since then, essays presented at the conference were selected for inclusion, revised and expanded by their authors, edited by me, revised again; I wrote a chapter of my own, arranged the essays in an order that made sense to me, and wrote an introduction to make visible that sensible structure for the collection. And I fixed the endnotes!
So now my prayer can be just one of gratitude: "If I should die before I wake, thank you, Lord, that the edited collection is safe." Which is even mildly snappy, as prayers go. Next up: peer review, and reviewers' comments that will need to be communicated to chapter authors, and editing, and copy-editing. But all that won't arrive back on my desk for many months. So between now and then, I can rest on my laurels and have less anxious bedtime petitions to the Deity. In fact, "Thank you, thank you, thank you" might suffice.