I've been in the process of revising J.R.R. Tolkien's Beowulf and the Critics for a revised, expanded and corrected second edition, and I have been driving myself up a tree not to do anything that would change the pagination of the edition. Thus I've been, in journalists' jargon, "killing widows," re-wording lines or paragraphs to keep them from running over into a next line. It's frustrating work (but amazing discipline for improving your writing).
But today I learned from the press that this work has been for naught (except that it has tightened up the writing considerably). The only way to make the minor corrections I want to make throughout will mess up the pagination. No way around it, due to the way the book was produced the first time around. That means (and you have no idea how hard it is to type these words) I will have to do a new index ...............
You see, I've done five indices this year. True, my brilliant students Jason Rea, Lauren Provost, Tara McGoldrick and now Maryellen Groot (learn these names: They are future professors, famous lawyers and captains of industry) have been doing the code-insertion. But in the end I'm responsible for the cumulative index for five volumes of Tolkien Studies. And now I have to re-index a book I wrote and indexed nearly ten years ago. It is enough to make you want to kill some more widows (or wander around a level-35 enemy camp completely nuking everything that moves in range of your level-56 crossbow. Not feeling like such a tough goblin now, are we Nishruk?).
So that's the bad news. The good news is now that there won't just be a new preface, corrections throughout and two (and, if I'm lucky, three) new sections added to the introduction. I can do a much more thoroughgoing revision to the text, and I can integrate the new material (tables showing the evolution of the original Oxford lectures into the published lecture; the identification of the various voice in the 'Babel of Voices' section, and, perhaps, a previously unpublished note that relates to the text), and I can revise some of the conclusions (W.P. Ker is even more important than I had realized) . So the "Expanded and Corrected" second edition will now be even more true than it was in the original plan and I will be able, with a clean conscience, to encourage you to buy either the paperback release or the planned "collector's edition" (we still haven't figured out the logistics of my signing all of them. I suggested flying me to Arizona in the middle of winter. They haven't said "no" that that yet).
And one final note: if you are one of the rare few who are selling copies of my book on Amazon for >150.00, you suck (well, a little), because I have no extra copies of my own to sell and thus can't capitalize on the fortunes of an out-of-print book. And the good news for you, though not for me, is that the ones you have will soon not only be a hard-to-get first edition, but a first edition that really is different than the second edition. You're welcome. Please send checks, fruit baskets or huge bars of gold to my Wheaton address.