Body of Work

Over Thanksgiving break, I will devote some time to the Academic Jungle/Xykademiqz project. There is a lot of material and I started by downloading everything and organizing according to year, paginating, and estimating the total scope (about 400k words); that was in August and greatly aided by jetleg-induced insomnia. Yesterday, I went in detail through 2014, as evidenced by all the Post-its  (see pics below). Some material got chucked, but the rest was separated into one large body and four smaller ones. Again, I did this just for 2014 which was a fairly material-heavy year, and the hope is to have everything annotated and separated into these 5 text bins by the end of the break.  Some of the comics will be used for illustration and may have to be redrawn or at least rescanned, but I will do that once I m happy with the draft of the text. Serious editing will commence mid-December, after the finals.

At this point, it seems there will be a book aimed at academic scientists at different career stages (job hunt, what the job entails (teaching, research, service), career management, networking, politics, colleagues and collaborations) and another one aimed at graduate students and postdocs (interactions with advisor, motivation, technical writing tips, networking, job considerations) with some overlap between the two. In the pictures below, the professorial material is annotated in hot pink, the student one is annotated in Martian green;  as I said, there is a fair amount of overlap, and at this point there is a main text so I will edit only once, while the student file currently contains only the posts that are student-centric without being necessarily relevant for the professorial cohort. After the editing, the student book will be augmented by the overlap material. These two are the 1 large and the 1 out of 4 smaller text bins.  There are 3 additional separate categories: women in science issues (annotated in warm yellow below; likely will be part of both collections),  expat academic (pale yellow), and rants/travelling grouchiness/generally goofy or irreverent stuff (orange). What I would like it for the product to be something highly modular, so that perhaps you can buy smaller chunks in electronic form but if you want the paper book, then we will have two larger collections. Some of it (likely the rants etc) I would perhaps even offer as a bonus or a teaser or promotional material of some sort. We’ll see what Melanie of Annorlunda Books can pull off and what makes sense to try and do from the financial and marketing standpoints.

But here’s a quick look at the magnum opus (all the text inside is in 11 pt font, two-sided):




Pleasure derived from work is directly proportional to the number of colorful Post-its required.

Happy Thanksgiving to US readers!


  1. I have always wanted to turn my blog into a book! I think yours will be an awesome read – enjoying watching the process unfold 🙂

  2. I’ve been turning the course design that I’ve been doing on my blog ( into a textbook ( Although I was able to recycle some content from the blog, I pretty much had to rewrite and redraw everything. I’ve not printed out the book or the blog—the paper waste involved would be tremendous. Leanpub claims that the book is 303 pages, but some of those are blank pages at the ends of chapters, to start each chapter on an odd-numbered page. The book would be about 1.5cm thick, but I’ve no idea how big printing my entire blog would be —probably at least 10cm, and probably more.

  3. Comrade PP, I like you, but it’s time to shut up. The ship has sailed.

    Making books is fun. Good luck! Don’t try to sanitize it too much — it’s your unique writing voice and personality that makes your writing worth reading.

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