Wrapping Up the Catalog Copy

I don’t know about anyone else, but my sleep patterns have turned to utter chaos these last three weeks. One night I might have bifurcated sleep (sleep, significant break, sleep), the next restless near-insomnia, and the next ten solid hours of sleeping like the dead.

That, at least, has been my pattern over these last three nights. I woke at eight, feeling quite refreshed. May that be the new normal.

My efforts yesterday to get my wireless USB adapter to work in Linux Mint were a failure. I suppose it’s just not meant to be.

I put on a pot of coffee, I had a bowl of Nutter Butter cereal,

The writer, at his desk
The writer, at his desk

My tasks for the day:

  • Prep Import Toys for layout
  • UK text
  • New Release list for DBD
  • Liqudation list to start on Thursday

The first was the matter of about fifteen minutes. When finished, I sent an email to the Graphics team, letting them know that the section was ready for them.

The third ended up being nothing; new shipments to retailers are ceasing next week due to the COVID outbreak, so I had no list to prepare. “New Releases” is a misnomer, by the way. The “releases” in the spreadsheets I receive are for next week and the following week, and I would create articles in the CMS from these spreadsheets for next week. to start on Sunday.

The main task for the day was to finish the text for the catalog’s UK supplement.

Of all of the catalog’s sections, the UK section is the most labor intensive. The other catalog sections are edited in a database — title, text, priceline, etc. — and various flags are set so that when I run an export fuction the text comes out structured and formatted the way I want it. With the UK section, it’s all done manually. I start from spreadsheets sent to me by the buyers, I take the information I need from the spreadsheets and dump into into a Word file, and then I go through and edit the Word file into the shape of what I want. It’s a little bit more time intensive, too; the equivalent number of items in another section would not take as long.

This sounds like a complaint, but it’s not. The writing takes as long as it takes. That’s just the reality of being a writer. Sometimes I have to flesh out some bare details. Other times I have to consult various fandom wikis (Star Trek, Transformers, etc.) to say something specific about a generic product listing. And I’ve worked on the UK section long enough that I slip fairly seamlessly into using British spelling and punctuation. I just have to remember when I’m done to turn my brain back to American English.

This was wrapped up by early afternnon. This involved some search-and-replaces I run to fix some of the formatting. (I have “Autocorrect As You Type” turned off in Word.) That done, the file was emailed to the UK buyers, and they’ll email me corrections in the morning, before I even get up. And with that, the catalog copy for the May catalog was done. Finished. Finito.

At this point, I took a little break, went outside, and walked around. It was a nice afternoon, though a little on the chilly side. And very quiet, almost no traffic.

A quiet, early spring afternoon in Yoe
A quiet, early spring afternoon in Yoe

After, I worked on the liquidation lists. Those two words, “liquidation lists,” sound simple, but they encompass so much. There are html tables to create from a spreadsheet, articles to create using those html tables in the corporate CMS, and a text file to create, again from the spreadsheet, to put online Thursday morning. I developed VBA macros for Excel and Word years ago to automate creating the html tables and the text file as much as possible. It’s funny — I was hired to be a writer, and I had to learn to be a programmer.

As Scrooge McDuck said to Huey, Louie, and Dewey in the original DuckTales, “Work smart, not hard.”

Tomorrow I will make any UK corrections needed, send the UK to layout, and start work on the catalog’s editorial copy.

That’s another work-from-home day in the books.

This meme went around on Facebook this afternoon. I remember the days when Facebook was filled with memes like that, memes that told your friends a little bit about you and your interests and your personality. They seemed to disappear six or seven years ago, but I’ve noticed them making a comeback in the past two weeks.

You have only one movie of each genre to watch over and over. What do you pick? Here are my choices:

1 Western Movie: ¡Three Amigos!

1 Monster Movie: The Bride of Frankenstein

1 Fantasy Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

1 Action Movie: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

1 Thriller Movie: The Hunt for Red October

1 Horror Movie: Alien 3

1 Slasher Movie: From Hell

1 Mystery Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (the Hammer 1959 version with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee)

1 Drama Movie: The Natural

1 Science Fiction Movie: Contact

1 Comedy Movie: That Thing You Do!

1 Musical Movie: A Hard Day’s Night

1 Disaster Movie: Deep Impact

1 Romantic Movie: Dave

1 Independent Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

1 War Movie: Empire of the Sun

1 Bond Movie: The World Is Not Enough

1 Animated Movie: The Little Prince

1 Super-Hero Movie: Batman Returns

My choices are occasionally quirky. 🙂

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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