Sunday, August 31, 2008
Evidently, the word “index” comes from the Latin index meaning “forefinger, pointer” and is related to the Latin indicare for “point out.” The first usage as a noun meaning “list of a book’s contents” showed up in 1580, and the first usage as a verb, as in “to compile an index” arrived in 1720.
Have you ever made an index? I spent much of my three-day weekend so far poring over the first pages of Live Nude Girl that my publisher sent me in order to a) find and fix any errors, and b) start compiling an index. I say “start compiling” because although I now have a draft of an index, I’ll have to go through the entire manuscript at least once more before I can say the book is truly indexed because the current pagination might change based on my edits. So while I can say that “Kiki of Montparnasse” appears on p. 148 at the moment, I can’t say that she will stay there for the next go-round.
Anyway, starting to make the index took hours and hours and was tedious, tiresome, and painstaking. “Boticelli, Sandro” definitely gets an entry, and so do “Picasso, Pablo” and “Siddal, Elizabeth.” “Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida” gets an entry, of course, but does “Drake’s Devil Dogs”? Does “Fenway Park”? Does “Starbucks”? It’s tricky business. But it was also kind of fascinating and rewarding in a really meticulous and obsessive kind of way. So if you come to one of the cities where Kyle and I are reading, and you happen to pick up a copy of Live Nude Girl, please be sure to take a peek at p.177 where the index, according to the current round of page proofs, is poised to start.