Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Irons and Fire: Cliche Alert

When you can't think of something to write, use a cliche, let everyone criticize you, and move on. Then come back and try to think of another way to say it, without the cliche, make the edit and move on.

That's my advice to myself today, so I used the irons in the fire cliche. Yesterday evening all the things I'm trying to accomplish kind of came crashing down on me. I won't go into too many details, especially not about the many things that are not writing related. My to-do list is fuller than normal, let's just put it that way.

One iron was taken out of the fire this morning, sort of. Having not heard from the new managing editor of Buildipedia about the status of my monthly column (previously semi-monthly), I sent a third e-mail. I still worded it fairly nice, but said I needed to hear about whether they were going to publish the column I submitted based on my last contract, and that if not I would like them to pay me the kill fee. She responded very quickly, in very nice words. She said they will honor the contract and publish the column, but that would be the end of it. The analytics just don't support the column. She encouraged me to find other things to write about for them.

The "sort of" comes from what I did next. I asked for the rights to my construction administration articles so that I could cobble them together into an e-book on construction administration. Since the contracts I wrote them under describe them as essentially works-for-hire, I don't have rights to reprints. But I have enough material published there that, if I could get those rights released they would make the nucleus of a very nice e-book. She replied that she would check with her management, and that she would support me in the release of those rights.

Assuming I get that release (which is not a given and may not happen), I'll have around 13,000 words already written. If I could get that up to 25,000, I think I'd have a viable e-book for the engineering community. But that's work. It's taking the iron out of one fire and putting it in another. Oh, well, I won't likely hear for a while, and even if I receive those rights I won't likely work on it for six months to a year.

I'm in the process of trying to finish the two print books I recently proofed. Hopefully tonight I'll find the hour I need to work out the pagination on the homeschool edition of Documenting America and upload the new file. It would be nice to get that out of the fire for a few days. Then I can put the marketing iron for it into the fire.

The work needed for the print version of The Candy Store Generation is proving more difficult than I expected. The graphics are the problem. In order to improve the quality of the many graphs to make them look decent in print I need to go through a software contortion for each that would make a sideshow performer lame. The book has 18 graphs. All but three need improving. I generated about half of those using Excel, the others I pulled from websites. I'm reading in a guide on how to improve or maintain the quality of graphic files pulled into Word. It includes a software step for which I don't have the program, but for which there's a free program work-around. I don't think tonight will give me enough time to do it, but maybe tomorrow and the weekend.

Unfortunately the iron I have to tend to right now is my day job. Possibly I'll get back to this.


Gary said...

Have you tried saving the Excel graphs as device independent bit maps? If you still have trouble, sometimes it's easier to print and scan at high resolution into a graphic format (tiff or jpeg) and insert that into the document.

David A. Todd said...

I haven't figured out how to export via bit maps, unless you mean with a screen capture. I've done screen capture > file save > insert files on some websites, but not on Excel. I may try that.

I did try the print at best possible quality, scan the print at best possible quality, insert. I found some loss of quality, but I'm not sure I was doing it right.