I began a writing task today that I have never tackled before -- no, Mom, not thank you note writing -- indexing. That's right, for Walking Boston (Wilderness Press), I am creating an index for the book. I've never had to do this before and it is fascinating thinking about what should go in and what should go on the cutting room floor. Baked beans? Nah, probably not. Beacon Hill, yes. Brass knockers? Probably, just because I can. I also make reference to things like San Francisco's Nob Hill, Stonehenge, and a building nicknamed "the chicken coop." Do those go in?
Another thing that struck me is how often our first and primary interaction with a book may be with the index. In some ways (and this is a scary thought), this index may be the most-read chapter in the whole book. Ahh, the glamorous life of a writer. I can see the Pullitzer interviews now: "Mr. Felton, the index for your Walking Boston book is perhaps your best-read work. It's so precise; there's not a wasted word anywhere. What was your vision for this chapter?"
A final thought though before I stop procrastinating and get back to my alphabetical list of place names. As with my other books, I am amazed at the number of people who work really, really hard to get a book from an author's tangled brain to bookstore shelves. Editors, page designers, map makers, photographers, book sellers, and, yes, indexers all have a part and for that I am extremely grateful.
Sor, for all you in TV land. How many of you are diligent preparers of indexes? Any suggestions for one who is heading off into indexmania? I'll keep you posted as I go along.
Causes Robert Felton Supports
The Sierra Club, Soccer without Borders,