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September 21, 2016

My Obscure Journal Journey

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – After I had realized that I had made an important discovery, what happened to Ali, Alfred Wallace's companion, I decided to publish. The problem was, which obscure journal to choose. Most of these you have probably never heard of, but I was on a mission to let people know about the great event.


The Sarawak Museum Journal had offered to let people know, but it would be published a year hence, and I didn't want to go THAT obscure. I mean, it's one thing to announce your findings but having only two or three people read it is a bit much.


The same was true of the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, only with a few more readers. This was not a major event by any means but did deserve a few more people, say at least 10. I would have to look further.


I finally settled on the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies out of Singapore. First, the title of the publication suggested I would get a wider audience, maybe 50 people. Secondly, it was connected, somehow, to Cambridge University. What that had to do with it, if anything, I did not know, but it sounded impressive. I mean, if you're going to write for an obscure Journal you may as well write for a well-connected one.


I emailed the manuscript completely ignoring the writer guidelines. I received a nice e-mail telling me to reduce the number of words to 12,000. Mine was 25,000. At least I received a reply that they could be interested.


I started slashing away. I took out about 40 years toward the end. Still 15,000 words. I, then, took out the cutesy stuff and managed to finally reduce it to 10,000 words. Bingo. Then I had a closer look at the guidelines and they wanted the footnotes at the bottom of the page and not in the paragraph. I had, of course, put then in the paragraph with reference to the bibliography.


I am not good at details. I hate balancing a check book, and this was going to be the same intricate work I have always abhorred. First, the name of the author began with the first name first, "Tom McLaughlin” instead of “McLaughlin, Tom.” Then, there were all sorts of periods, italics, parenthesis, commas and a thing that looked like a triangle. Once I mastered that format for books, it completely changed for articles in a journal. Then, another format for an article in a book with an editor. They were not the same.


It took me a week to write over 132 footnotes. Yes, I know, but I could only stand it for two hours per day, and I was making soooo many mistakes. I was italicizing where I should have been underlining, putting a period where it should have been a comma, and I had no idea where the triangle thing went. I couldn't find it on my keyboard. Well, they will have to correct it themselves.


The manuscript is finished, well as finished as it's going to be, and I have sent it off to obscure journal land. Wish me luck!


...Life is good. . . . .


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