Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wilhelm Friess: all finished (updated)

The final manuscript of "Wilhelm Friess" has now left my desk and made its way to the publisher. The timeline for this project might be summarized like this:

March 2010: While waiting for the contract for Printing and Prophecy, I realize I need a new project. I discover that one project I was contemplating has recently been published by Christian Kiening. There seems to be a surprisingly large number of "Wilhelm Friess" editions, but since this prophecy was published after 1550, I hadn't said much about it in Printing and Prophecy. There doesn't seem to be much secondary literature on it, so I resolve to write an article - a short, quick article - while I search for the next big project.

July 2010: After turning in the final manuscript of Printing and Prophecy, I start tracking down facsimiles. Some of the texts I find don't look familiar. It turns out that there are two different prophecies, including one that exists in four very different versions, and one attribution of something by Nikolaus Caesareus to Friess.

September 2010: I write the article. I'm not quite satisfied with it. I re-write it. I work up a cover sheet, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something, so I hold off on submitting it anywhere. I submit an abstract to Kalamazoo instead. Then I find what I was missing: the Dutch back story to "Wilhelm Friess" in Frans Fraet's fateful publication of a prognostication by "Willem de Vriese." Another rewrite ensues.

April 2011: I discover several late-seventeenth century Friess editions circulating under different titles and authorial names. The Kalamazoo paper gets a hasty revision. I start wondering if the next big project is actually the thing I've been working on for the last year.

May 2011: I discover that several passages in both Friess prophecies are quoted from other sources, including Lichtenberger, Grünpeck, and Dietrich von Zengg, making the textual history of "Wilhelm Friess much more interesting than I had thought.

June 2011: I reorganize the article as a book, and start writing. By September I have a complete draft that comes to 56,000 words. Definitely too long for an article, but a bit short for a book.

October 2011. I revise the manuscript and ask if my editor would like to see what I'm working on. She's interested, and the manuscript goes out to readers. I plan on revising the book again, but otherwise I'm done. Still, I have that nagging feeling that I'm missing something important. I keep checking sources.

January 2012. I discover the source of the first prophecy: The Vademecum of Johannes de Rupescissa. This shakes up most of the chapters and the textual history of the first Friess prophecy. Coupled with the discovery a few months later of the French abridgment on which "Wilhelm Friess" is based, the the book manuscript needs a complete revision.

April-September 2012. I finish the revision. I revise the revision. The next afternoon, reader reports show up that need to be addressed. I do so. Two weeks later, a contract is offered. Not long after Thanksgiving, the whole manuscript - at 87,000 words - gets shipped off to the press. This time I don't have any nagging sensations that I've missed something.

July 2013. The copy-edited manuscript is sent back for me to check. I'm in the middle of moving at that point, so checking the manuscript lasts until early September.

January-February 2014. I receive the page proofs, check the page proofs, and prepare the index.

March 2014. I receive the proposed cover art. It's beautiful.

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