Editing, editing, editing! That’s what I’ve been doing, and the importance of that task has bumped the blog for this week. However, as I’ve been promising updates of the book as we move toward publication, perhaps it’s time for a recap and a look ahead.

I sent my original manuscript in to my editor at Viking, and she has sent it back to me with her insights and with additional comments from her assistant. Now my job is to incorporate their suggestions. Yes, I do have the option to ignore some of their ideas. Why would I do that, though, since they are extraordinarily skilled at what they do? In some cases I lack the evidence for a point they want me to stress. In other cases, my vision differs from theirs. Their long experience is always worth listening to, and I am deeply grateful to have such a gifted and concerned editor.

But what does this all really mean? It adds up to me doing one rapid read-through to make the easy changes. (That’s done!) Then comes the really hard work, when I read at a snail’s pace, adding clarification or the larger context here, deleting excess phrases there, making sure that my argument is clear and my prose lively. I really hate when I repeat words too often, so I’m on the lookout for those. I make sure I’m not cutting critical footnotes by mistake, because they are hard to reconstruct later. When there are too many quotes, I try to rephrase in my own words–but I want to be careful to let you “hear” Juliette Gordon Low’s voice, too. Women’s historians are sensitive to the historical silencing of women’s voices, so her words are important. Which reminds me: any overly-academic phrasing has to go, too, for the book’s intended audience is, well, everyone.

So I am doing that close, tough reading now. It is slow going. The urgency is more than just being able to spend time with my family again. The sooner I am done and can send my version back to the editors, the sooner they can go through it again, and so on until we reach an agreement about the basic narrative. Once that happens, I’ll let you know, and describe the next stages.

Meanwhile, the patient saints at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace are helping me come up with some good ideas for a cover photo. I know from my experience with my biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth that Viking can do beyond-gorgeous things with covers.

Last, but absolutely not least, is an update on the amazing photographs of Wellesbourne House, where Juliette Low used to live, taken by photographer extraordinaire Clive Hanley. The Fotopic company seems to have disappeared–and when it went, it took all of Clive’s dedicated work with it–poof! Gone. I’m happy to report that Clive endured with a spirit that would have made Daisy proud. He now has a new photosite. It’s http://evergreen.zenfolio.com and the part of it dedicated to Daisy Low is http://evergreen.zenfolio.com/f301845861 I hope you’ll go view the photos, and register and write nice things, too. He’s done a lot of work so we can glimpse that part of Daisy’s life. I will make specific reference to photos on his site in the future when I blog about Daisy’s Wellesbourne years.

That’s the update on the book manuscript…and as I’m not done editing, I’d better return to it or else you’ll never see this biography on your bookshelf!