You Only Have to Offer: How I came to author Two Encyclopedia Articles

When my professional organisation forwarded a call for contributors to a new encyclopedia, I glanced very briefly at the email then closed it. Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences?  Surely I was hardly qualified to write for an encyclopedia in which only one of the subjects meant  anything to me?  But then curiosity got the better of me.  Should I not look to see WHAT they wanted contributors to write about, before ruling myself out?

Well, I’m glad I looked again. In fact, I looked twice – I certainly had plenty to say about bards, including much that I’d researched but not actually used, comparatively recently.  Things were looking up.  I got to the letter Z, found nothing more, and went back to the beginning.  Well, I never!  It had never occurred to me to write about arranging music, but I’ve actually arranged quite a bit – albeit on a small scale – and I’ve probably pondered about song settings and piano arrangements far more than the average punter.  Maybe I would dare to contribute something about that, too.

I offered.  They accepted.  No kidding – in the short space of a few hours, I was contracted to contribute two articles to a new Sage encyclopedia.

As is my usual modus operandi, a bit of time had to pass before I felt the urge to actually write my entries.  I had other projects under way, and I could see I would have to spend quite a bit of time on the encyclopedia entries.  I booked a week’s holiday, gathered a few armfuls of useful textbooks, and locked myself away.  The bards piece wrote itself.  I had a ball!  Then I turned to the arranging one.  With a sinking heart, I began to realise that there was much more to it than I’d expected.  Not to arranging, per se, but to arranging as a subject that I had undertaken to write authoritatively about.  How wide would I cast my net?  Well, there was piano, orchestral, choral … okay, I could handle those.  And then there was jazz.  I wasn’t going to go to work on my holiday, but I am a librarian, and I knew we had more books than I had brought home.  I sallied forth and borrowed a few more.  Eventually, it was time to sit down at the laptop and see what ended up on the page.  I returned to work the next week having uploaded my two encyclopedia entries.  Only one needed editing – and not that heavily, either.  I breathed a sigh of relief and pretty much forgot about the whole experience.

Last week, I was surprised to find that the encylopedia is now available for purchase in two big, fat volumes!  I learned I’d soon be able to logon and see my entries in print, and I’m entitled to books from the Sage catalogue to a reasonable value.  I’m still deciding which!  But there is a moral to all this, which is why I decided to blog about it.  It definitely pays to seize opportunities when they come your way.  If I had just deleted that email, I wouldn’t now have another publication (okay, contribution to a publication) to my name.  What’s more, it’s proof that you shouldn’t automatically decide you’re not cut out to do something.  Me, a social and behavioral science author?  I don’t know about that.  But I proved to myself I could pull the rabbit out of the hat when the need arose!

Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: an Encyclopedia

Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences an Encyclopedia

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