Posted by amy

It’s been quiet on the blog recently, but it’s been anything but quiet behind the scenes. For example, we welcomed a new student member to our editorial team: Elijah Akinbamidele. We also hit the halfway point in our second round of tandem proofreading (PR2 is 56% complete as of today), and so we will likely meet our goal of completing all proofreading by the end of this summer!

In addition, Naomi and I have been busy writing the introduction and editing two chapters for the print edition of the diary. To reflect the rhythms of HW's professional life, we’ve decided that each chapter will comprise a complete theater season, roughly September through May plus the subsequent summer (if we think there’s interesting material to include from the summer). For example, chapter one will cover November 1845 through August 1846, HW’s first season as a professional actor. Chapter two will cover September 1846 through August 1847 (the 1846-47 season); chapter three, 1847-48; and so on.

One of the most surprising things we’ve learned so far is how selective we will have to be in the print edition. Because we are working with a goal of 100,000 words or less, we realized recently that we will only be able to include, roughly, 10% of what Watkins wrote. In many respects, this makes the digital edition (which will make 100% of his words available online) even more important and valuable. As we’ve worked on these initial chapters for the print edition, Naomi and I have had to be increasingly brutal about which entries to include. It’s been an interesting and challenging process, and has also refined our ideas about the purpose of both editions (print versus digital) in terms of readability, accessibility, comprehensiveness, and reader engagement. As we review each entry and decide whether or not to select it for the print volume, we ask ourselves: What are the major “stories” in this season/chapter — about Watkins as a professional, a social being, a US citizen, or some other role? Even if a particular story intrigues or amuses us, will our imagined reader(s) find them interesting, too? To what degree do we need to make Watkins’s geographic movements visible? And many other questions.

In sum, we’re learning a lot about the joys and challenges of editing a voluminous diary like this one. We’re looking forward to learning from others’ perspectives when we start sending out these samples for feedback.