Friday, June 23, 2006

Trying to Finish a Book

You may be wondering why the blogging here has been so light of late. No, I haven't been traveling; I've actually been holed up in my basement with piles of books and photocopies for the past month, editing my academic book manuscript. For the first couple of weeks it was possible to be a bit relaxed about it, but recently the prospect of having to actually submit it to meet a deadline has made it hard to think about much of anything else.

The book started as a dissertation, and has undergone many changes of direction in recent years. First, it wasn't until 2004 that I really figured out how to simplify and straighten the thesis enough so it could be explained in normal English to a layperson. Then I had to find a publisher, which I did last fall. After that, the biggest challenge was to standardize the language of the book into a single, readable "voice": for better or worse, how I sounded in 2000 is quite different from how I sound now. A lot of my old material (almost 100 pages) had to get cut, but there's some new material written this past year that I'm excited about -- new chapters on "Secularism and Indian Feminism" and "Secularism After 9/11."

It was also surprisingly difficult to get it into the form my publisher wants -- which essentially entails making the pages of the book look like they will if/when it's published. MS Word is incredibly powerful (it can build your index for you!), but it has many odd quirks. Getting the chapter headers and pagination right took a surprisingly long time (damn you, "Same As Previous" default! curse you, "Continuous Section Break"!), and making an "intelligent" Table of Contents that met the publisher's style requirements ultimately defeated me.

But the good news is, Literary Secularism: Religion and Modernity in Twentieth-Century Fiction is about done, and is headed for the hands of an editor.


St Antonym said...

Wow. Massive task accomplished.


10:44 AM  
tilotamma said...

good luck!

11:54 AM  
Chandra said...


Does it cover just the past six years? And is it fiction from all parts of the world or just focused on South Asia and US?

2:22 PM  
Ms. V. said...

The noise you hear faintly but insistently is a standing ovation. Congratulations on the continuing results of your hard work.

3:26 PM  
Ketan said...

congratulations. you might want to take a look at LaTEX. Its very good for writing books, articles, thesis et. and the quality is excellent. The best part is its free.

3:47 PM  
Amardeep said...

Chandra, it's mainly the UK and India/South Asia, though I do foray into issues in Turkey and the U.S. in the final chapter.

I would love to get into lit. from other parts of the world. I do read a lot of Arabic novels in translation, and might want to write an article sometime on interesting writers like Assia Djebar and Hanan al-Shaykh... But I didn't feel confident enough to do that in this book.

I also think it would be interesting to do more in Southeast Asia -- Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia. But up til now there hasn't been a lot of writing from those countries coming to the U.S.

If you have suggestions for writers who are dealing with questions of secularism and religious orthodoxies in their fiction, I'm always game to hear it!

Everyone, thanks for your support-- no need to clap yet, though. The book has to be accepted, then edited officially, and then revised further before it's really done.

4:40 PM  
ana beynaam said...

keeping good thoughts and fingers crossed for the publishers to accept your book. all the best with that and the revisions and finishing touches.

and i can't wait to read it when it's done! :)

5:16 PM  
Ms. World said...

Congratulations! You are getting closer to the big day!

9:35 PM  
vk said...

congratulations about the book. Let us know when it gets published.

12:53 AM  
Anand said...


1:45 AM  
Sharanya Manivannan said...

Congratulations and all the very best! :)

9:55 AM  
N said...

Congrats :).

1:28 PM  
bitchphd said...


11:17 PM  
Banned at SM, Loved everywhere else said...

Good post Amardeep. A few years back I worked on a project with Gerard da Kunha in Goa to publish the work of Takeo Kamiya in India. From the age of 21, for the next 20 years Takeo saved up money to travel to India every year. In true Japanese style, he cut up India into 20 squares and each year he visited a square. There he photographed, drew and wrote notes on all the temples-mosques-chruches he could find. You can read more about the book here, THE GUIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE

1:51 PM  
Anonymous said...

"You may be wondering why the blogging here has been so light of late."

"Trying to Finish a Book"

Unfortunately, the first thing that flashed in my mind was this bit of dialogue from the show Cheers:

Coach: I'm working on a novel. Going on six years now. I think I might finish it tonight.

Diane: You're writing a novel?

Coach: No, reading it.

All kidding aside, congratulations on er, "finishing" your book. :)

7:33 PM  
Boston Bala said...


4:21 PM  
Anonymous said...

Now, I don't think I could ever do that. EVER. I always struggle to meet deadlines. :)

10:18 PM  

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