More paper please!

When you’re a best-selling author publishing in the 1960s –
1980s, you can get a lot of editing help. At least you can if you’re Irving
Wallace. While processing the series based on his book titled The Fan Club, I noted at least 3 editors
working with Wallace at different stages. To begin, after he finished an
original draft, he went back through it, his wife Sylvia went through it, and
usually Wallace would hire an editor or have his secretary retype changes for
him. Once the manuscript underwent several rewrites and he felt it was ready
enough, he’d send it along to the publisher who would then send his manuscript
to one of their freelance editors (or in house if they had them).

Over time, Wallace got to where he liked the rapport he
developed with particular editors and types of revisions or edits they would
recommend. As it happened, the one he requested to work with (again) at Simon
and Schuster was living in Mexico at the time. The reason I mention that is
because some of her cover letters to Wallace often included apologies for lack
of regular access to resources like paper. flyerpile.jpg

Apparently his favorite editor was out of paper again. When
her editing suggestions arrived for Wallace’s review, they were written on what
he called “flyers.” Each flyer was 4″ wide and varying height. They ranged from
½ and inch to 5″ in height depending on how much the editor wrote. As it turns
out, each little strip of paper was piece of scrap paper made from the large
manila envelope in which one of Wallace’s drafts had undoubtedly arrived. This
was, of course, in the 1970s before the advent of home computers or the
Internet so editing work might be shipped all over the world between editors,
agents, and authors.flyersingle.jpg

That the editor painstakingly wrote out each line that
required a suggestion is quite labor-intensive. But for every “flyer” the
editor included, Wallace also carefully reviewed it then considered his
response. Often he would converse back and forth through the mail with his
editors arguing for specific spellings or turns of phrase. Other times he would
simply take their suggestions and incorporate them into the next rewrite.

If ever a student thought they could continue going through
life with the written-the-night-before paradigm and still be successful, they
need only look to someone like Irving Wallace. In each of his book projects he
details between 6-10 rewrites before the publisher ever sees it. Then there’s a
process of at least 3-7 more drafts with changes and suggestions of his various
editors. Additionally, Wallace’s beloved wife read every project with aplomb
and enthusiasm, which would bring about another revision. Even at the stage of
page proofs, Wallace would incorporate another 3 or 4 sets of revisions. I
guess if you want to be a best-seller, that’s the kind of work ethic you need
to have.

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Bluff Lake

I have started to work on the Bear Valley
Mutual Water Company files and as I was going through the documents I noticed
the word, “Bluff Lake.” As usual my imagination ran wild visualizing a lake
which really did not exist. Or did it?

It turns out Bluff Lake is one of the best
lakes in Big Bear! It is open from the beginning of May until the beginning of
November. The lake was the filming location for Dr. Dolittle 2! It is an ideal
spot to spend a day far from the madding crowd.
What’s really interesting is that in 1921,
James S. Edwards, trustee of Pomona College, bought the property for $1,100.
Edwards sold the property four years later to Pomona College for $10! Pomona
College owned the Bluff Lake until the 1940s.
References
Big Bear Vacations: https://www.bigbearvacations.com/experience/bluff-lake-big-bear/
https://www.thedesertway.com/bluff-lake-ca/

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Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Aqueduct in Progress

This blog post entry was written by CLIR CCEPS Fellow, Lilyan Rock:
At the same time of the construction of the Hoover Dam (known as the Boulder Canyon Project during the All-American Canal era) there was also the completion of the Metropolitan Water District’s Aqueduct (1931-1935), connecting the newly harnessed water for a growing Los Angeles. The Metropolitan Water District serves all of Southern California currently, and their aqueduct system safely transports water over 242 miles through the desert sand.
Lilyan blog pic - 2019March6.jpg
This map shows how the construction of such an engineering feat happens while in progress, having intake, pumps and reservoirs constructed first, then pipeline completed afterward, shown as dotted lines on this 1932 map.

Getting to know you…

Irving Wallace was an incredibly prolific writer. Think Tom
Clancy or Robert Ludlum and you get the idea. As I’ve continued processing the
collection, I’ve learned some interesting things about Wallace’s writing style,
his techniques, and his process. I’ve also gained a pet peeve or two about his idiosyncrasies.

A few things I’ve learned in the last few weeks – Irving
Wallace was either VERY interested in the topic of sex or he was VERY interested
in making money with his work and knew that sex sells. Okay, it’s probably a
combination of those things, but it seems
like he’s always using sex as a major theme of his work. Last week I wrote
about Victoria Woodhull, an exceptional woman who pushed back at the roles available
to women during her era and even ran for president. But because she was
outspoken about her positive opinions of sex, Wallace labeled her the
prostitute who ran for president. There was a lot more about the other women in
the collection Nymphos and Other Maniacs
as well. Promiscuous women make for good stories seemingly. As another example,
in The Celestial Bed, Wallace’s story
revolves around a man and woman who have sex with their clients to teach them
intimacy and help them resolve their issues. I haven’t actually read the book,
but that’s the gist I sussed from working with it. Wallace hit on a theme that
worked and kept with it I think.

Another thing I learned about Wallace, like the theme of
sex, he never seemed to mind reusing techniques that got a publishing contract.
After placing numerous revisions of the manuscript for The Celestial Bed into new acid-free folders, I have now read
pretty much the first paragraph of every chapter of the book. They all use the
same formula. When (person’s full name) did (this thing: woke up, got to work,
whatever), s/he had no idea that (this thing) would happen. It seems a bit cliché,
but it works! Over and over I found myself wondering who was this cat Wallace
was talking about and why didn’t he or she know that was going to happen. As a
matter of fact, how did that happen in the first place? See what he did there?
It’s called hooking the reader. Wallace did it well even if formulaically.

A last thing I’ve come to appreciate about Wallace in the
last few weeks is just how well he understood his audience. As I’ve insinuated
above, he knew his reader, but he even understood his other audiences. On each
and every copy of his manuscripts I’ve worked with, Wallace has a little note
attached explaining to the archivist and the researcher what this particular
draft is about. He usually states how many revisions there were before the
first draft that went to the agent or publisher to see if they wanted to buy
it. Or how many more revisions were involved after he got that contract. One manuscript I processed today was a
draft copy for his wife to review. I cannot fathom it, but apparently she
reviewed and edited every single manuscript he wrote. He always took her
suggestions into account when revising. It astounds me that one or two years
later, sometimes more, Wallace can still remember what every draft was about.
Sometimes he cranked out entire books in a mere three months’ time all while
working on other projects along the way. All of these things I appreciate, but
even Irving Wallace can’t escape pet peeves.

My pet peeve with Wallace? Paper clips. Lots and
lots and lots of paper clips. Mind you by now they’ve been replaced by
archive-friendly plastic clips, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason for
them. Why Irving?! Why did you bundle this set of pages together? And why didn’t
you leave any inscriptions about them like you do about the drafts? Sometimes
pages are bundled across chapters, sometimes within chapters. Sometimes he
bundled huge swaths of papers (30-50 sheets at a time), while others he might
choose to clip a mere three pages together. Was this where he stopped reading
that day doing revisions? Was this where he stopped writing that day? Maybe,
but who knows. It’s a little thing, but then pet peeves mostly are, right?

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Environmental Historians Must Translate Data System Graphs, Such as These

This blog post entry was written by CLIR CCEPS Fellow, Lilyan Rock:
River
courses, after carving through the Earth like how the Colorado has done to the
Grand Canyon, don’t change coordinates within the span of a century. They can,
however, change flow and rate, either naturally or synthetically through the
construction of dams and irrigation maneuvering. Environmental historians may
find charts such as this one below, worth more than just the values of their
numbers. When measuring the effects of water management on an environment it is
important to consider the previously recorded flow of a river, versus the
current recorded outputs from today. Not only do environmental historians have
to work with scientifically recorded data, to glean said data they must keep up
with the changing technologies over the years as well.

Lilyan blog pic1 - 2019March1.jpg
This image above is part of the Boulder Canyon Projects series, charting the average flow between January to December of 1932 at the location of modern day’s Hoover Dam. The chart below is from Hoover Dam’s flow between January to December of 2018.
Lilyan blog pic2 - 2019March1.jpg
[Second image courtesy of USGS National Water Information System, https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/]

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Understanding the flow of water…

This week, I continued working on the metadata for items from the Willis S. Jones collection. One of the interesting aspects of the items this week was that the discharge measurements were taken from all directions of the flow of water from the Temecula Creek.
Some of the measurements were done using an 80-inch contracted weir for comparative measurement, while the other ones were mainly used for determining the flow of water at a specific point of time.
When I started working on the metadata for more similar items, I found a pattern in which they were measured. Initially, the flotation speed was measured. Then, the flotation speed through specific diversion points and joints were measured. And, finally the weir was used for comparative analysis. This lead to a thorough understanding of the flow of water from the Temecula Creek. Once the measurements were done, based on the efficiency of flow of water, weather conditions and surrounding land, the rates for water supply were decided with approvals from the Los Angeles Water Department. For the approvals, letters were first exchanged between Willis S. Jones and the landowners on the basis of negotiations which were finally sent to the officials at the water department. Due to this thorough process, there was a uniformity that existed leading to minimal errors in distribution of water supply.