On Completing a First Edition

Before I wrote my first textbook, way back in 1999 (for the now-defunct National Textbook Company), I never put much thought into what went into the creation of the books I was assigning to my students. I suppose I half-assumed that somebody sat down for a couple of weeks—a couple of months at most—and typed out a first draft that more or less became the textbook I was using that semester.

O, the naïveté of youth!

In actuality, writing the first draft of a textbook for a major publisher like Macmillan involves a great deal of time, and the assistance of many, many experts. I first proposed the idea for Hello, Writer (under a different title) at the ALP/CADE conference in Denver, in June of 2017, four years ago. While the initial drafting of the book proceeded fairly smoothly, necessary revisions were called for and made. New folks appeared on the Macmillan team; others became cherished memories. Still, others were always there, as dependable as the sunrise (this goes out to you, Paola García-Muñiz). Along the way, ideas were shelved; more revisions were made. Sentences, paragraphs, pages of prose were written and discarded. During that process, dozens of my colleagues across the country weighed in with valuable advice. Their feedback was discussed and incorporated.

Did the book become better in those four years? Certainly. Is it fundamentally different than the one I initially imagined? No, it’s not and, for that, I’m grateful to the editorial staff who have shepherded the book to completion.

Although my extraordinary editor Michelle Clark is still making final tweaks and vigilantly ensuring that all the 2021 changes in MLA documentation are correctly applied, I feel confident in saying the first edition, or at least my role in creating it, is all but complete.

Now there is only the waiting, the crossing of fingers, and the belief that a book that helps students become better writers, and does so at a reasonable price, will find its audience.

For the moment, I’m exhausted, and yet I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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