Working from daft form to a final manuscript

I have been really focused on writing an introduction to machine learning syllabus to share with everybody over on my Substack newsletter. Most of my time and energy has gone into that effort. Right now I’m at the point where a draft exists and has been shared out. That is generally a great point in the process. For me it means that I need to let it breathe for a bit and then go back and rework and reread it a few days later. Picking it up with fresh eyes let me catch the little things that otherwise seemed ok in the initial draft. During the course of that process I have learned how to make figures, tables, and generally use the LaTeX syntax. That was indeed a battle and I shared the files for others to be able to take a look at them if they wanted to see how I used the syntax. I ended up having to learn the whole thing from a bunch of tutorials on YouTube along the way each time I wanted to do something new along the way. It was not until the last section in material that I had to learn how to make tables in LaTeX which was shockingly complex compared to what I expected. You have to understand a bit about how the structure works to see how to modify it in practice. 

Part of learning the LaTeX syntax during my journey was learning to appreciate the Overleaf website and how it manages that type of content. At first, I was wondering why this was any different than using the Google Doc or Microsoft Word processing environments. It really is a bit different and it worked out well enough. It is worth the small cost to be able to use it and I can see where having collaborators and sharing a document is something that the platform helps facilitate in a deeply powerful way. Now that the basic draft process on that syllabus is complete it is time to really focus deeply on the “what’s next?” question. Within my research trajectory notes and upcoming research pages on the Weblog I have a few ideas of what I’m working toward creating. At the moment, I’m thinking that my work with machine learning literature reviews is not complete. I may work out a few more deeper looks at some of the topics contained within the syllabus. I am able to format my research notes and literature reviews into LaTeX syntax PDF documents now. 

I read an article over at The Verge that Google is tracking what I’m doing in my Google Doc and that is not entirely surprising. I will say that during the course of writing in my Substack file which is now drafted to week 87 of 104 planned writing sessions the algorithm has gotten better at providing suggestions while I write on edits and matches my phrasing better. That document about machine learning is really close to 100,000 words right now it is at a word count of 96,925. I’m guessing that in terms of purely original technical learning prose creation I’m on the deeper end of the documents they are analyzing. Somebody I’m sure has written something that is longer. They probably have a different writing schedule than I do and the overall feel and style is probably different.

Oh those writing projects

On Saturday morning, I sat down and started drafting out the 52nd Substack post of my “The Lindahl Letter” series. This post will probably be dedicated to lessons learned and a few thoughts about writing a Substack post for a full year. At that time, I was still working on all three writing projects that were mentioned last week. Saturday was the day that my latest manuscript came back from the editor. That manuscript did end up coming back from the editor. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it and ordered a proof copy of the finished product to see what it looks like on actual pages. Sometime in the next 30 days that proof copy will arrive. Sometimes editing with a pen and paper on a printed copy is the only way for me to catch those last few typos that are hiding somewhere on the pages as future eratta. 

The printed version of the book is inflight and that is exciting. The next step in the process will be to convert it into an eBook. To that end, right now I have the eBook up and ready for one last edit on the final version of my latest book, “The Lindahl Letter: On Machine Learning.” My effort ended up being 154 pages and is both edited and formatted well for the page. What is remaining is one more start to finish read today to catch any last second typos or formatting problems before committing it to permanent storage within the eBook format. That type of effort requires a ton of focus and probably a few shots of espresso along the way. Hopefully, the general flow of the finished product is solid enough that my editing will move along swiftly for a final read. 

Yesterday, I did manage to share the week 50 post on both Twitter and Facebook. My strategy of social sharing the content seems to be working out well enough. I’m not going to call it a market strategy as that would imply some type of professional bar for distribution is being met and that is not the case. Put simply I’m just sharing links to the content to see if a few more people each week will start reading on an ongoing basis. I guess that is how readership grows in an organic way. 

At some point, I’m going to write a post or a book called, “Careless with the page.” That title stuck with me yesterday and I ended up writing it down in Google Keep for later review. After I complete editing the previously mentioned eBook today and get it submitted, the next step in the puzzle will be interesting. I have about 10 other manuscripts that need to be edited into eBook format and launched into publication. Earlier this year I spent some time thinking about the nature of mortality and how true it is that we need to use the time we have toward productive endeavors. Within that framework it seemed to me that all those manuscripts that are essentially parked need to be edited and shared out as eBooks for posterity.

Keeping writing a priority

Right now my focus is on working three different pieces of content to completion. 

  1. On Machine Learning – this book needs some work to update the footnotes after it comes back from the editor
  2. Considering product choices – this future paper needs to go from a talk based slideshow (PowerPoint) to a paper
  3. I need to finish the slides for my “The next 5 years of ML in the healthcare space” talk

Each one of these needs a different level of care to complete the effort. One of the things that I need to focus on continuing throughout 2022 is keeping at least 3 writing projects open. This obviously does not include my daily writing efforts or the one off projects that get sparked from the flames of imagination. This list of things that I’m working on will continue to be a living list that will undergo change. From here on out I’m just going to write about my projects. Taking that course of action will give me more content to write about and help focus on thoughts on the task at hand. Keeping a list of open writing projects helps me take my time on Saturday and Sunday morning and focus it on something more academic. One of the things that is very important to me is to start turning more of my focus to writing academic papers and manuscripts moving forward.

A busy Sunday writing day

Today was super productive in terms of writing. For some reason, I got up this morning and worked to take my Substucks and work toward getting them into a publishable format. That all started with a moment of introspection, “Right now I’m wondering if The Lindahl Letter newsletter currently published on Substack should be offloaded as a year one manuscript for publication. It would be pretty easy to just take the 52 posts and strip out the links/thoughts and Tweets sections.”[1] A few moments later a second thought occurred about the subject as well related to the possibility of switching up topics every year for a really deep research focus including 52 different inquiries. That one I’m not as sure about, but well over an hour was invested into formatting the The Lindahl Letter into a Microsoft Word document ready for publication via a book aggregation service that handles publishing across a multitude of platforms.

The advertising plan seemed a little bit sad after the first draft. It went a bit like this, “Sometimes when the internet is not working do you miss having a physical copy of The Lindahl Letter on your bookshelf?” Yeah, that did not seem compelling to me either. However, if that is something you were looking to have, then you can look forward to a publication of the one year manuscript. Right now the topic list is out to week 59 and I have a few more topics to transfer from my Google Keep files. That took the planned writing list out to week 65 which was a little bit better. I’m going to need to spend some time working on more topics to feed into the list. So far during the writing process the topics have sort of been generated in little spurts of creativity. 


[1] At the moment, only 46 of the 52 posts are written and ready to go. Outside of that temporal problem the manuscript is mostly done.