Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Repeat-Intern’s Long Project: The Norton Trilogy

 Jack L. August Jr. has written two books that deal with water rights and the division of the Colorado River: Dividing Western Waters and Vision in the Desert. His latest book, The Norton Trilogy, due in July, focuses on something different. It begins in the late nineteenth century and follows three generations of John Ruddle Nortons of Arizona all the way to the present. This book follows the development of the Southwest region of the United States and the origins of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Salt River Valley, all centered on agriculture and business.

I was assigned to help with this project from the beginning of my internship here, and I have spent more time on this book than any other. I have completed the widest range of assignments for this book, and it has taught me the most about the lengthy process of making a manuscript into a book.

The editing process alone is extremely involved. This is the area which I have been assisting the TCU Press staff the most.

I admit that when I first saw the manuscript for The Norton Trilogy, it was daunting: 11 chapters, each 30-50 pages, plus an introduction and conclusion. Step one was to get familiar with the text. I spent a few weeks in September staring at a computer screen, reading the manuscript. It took a long time, but I was learning already. I soon became comfortable with the structure of the book and the narratives of the people in it. To top it off, I even learned a thing or two about dam construction and Arizona history.

To make the next step (developmental editing) easier, I then was tasked with creating a timeline of all the events in the book. From the birth of John Norton in 1854 to John Norton III’s most recent campaign in 2001, this book has a long chronology of events that literally span centuries.

Next I followed the Press editor, Kathy Walton, as she worked her magic. August’s words began to revive themselves from the first time I read it, and I was reminded of the great subject matter. From November through March, I worked on copyediting the prose to follow the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style. As an intern, it was my job to make sure that the style choices were being used in the text and to confirm spellings of names and places. The content was more solidly saved in my head.

February through April saw the collection and organization of images for the book. Because this is primarily a biography, it was interesting to put faces to the names. One photograph was chosen for the cover, and the rest needed a place within the text. By far my most hands-on experience at the Press has been to catalogue these pictures. The timeline made earlier gave me insight into the structure of the book, but now this knowledge is put to the test as I search for chapters and pages to match each photo.

The Norton Trilogy is a combination of regional history, the politics of agriculture, and legal issues about river water. This book mainly follows the Norton family, but also details the practices of ancient Native Americans’ canal systems, White House efforts to divide life-giving river water among several arid regions, and scenes of the recently formed settlement town of Phoenix. The wide array of subjects makes it an editorial challenge, but overall a highly interesting read.

We’re getting closer and closer to producing a completed, polished book. Once the manuscript is edited, the text will be transmitted to the designer, who will return page proofs for us to proofread before sending it to the printer. Soon it will be out of my hands entirely.

I can’t wait for that first shipment of printed books. I spent so much time on this project, I am going to hold the finished product in my hands and feel a strong sense of pride for my contributions. 

by Megan Doyle, intern

1 comment:

Mindy Clark, MD said...

Dear Ms. Megan Doyle,

Please rest assured that all of your efforts led to the culmination of Dr. Jack August's book being the incredible piece that it is to read. I have the grace of being a friend of Jack's, as well as to serve on a NP board with Mr. Norton. I am so happy for you that you truly "cut your teeth" on this amazing work.

Thank you for your effort.

Mindy Clark, MD