Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome to my "Process"

You know what I'm totally proud of in the 3-plus year history of this blog? My First Book Chronicles. Yeah, I'm enamored with my own wit and trenchant observations in the other posts, and there are all those pretty pictures (especially from the research trips), but the Chronicles are really the only part, so far, that might constitute a contribution to other academic writers trying to get a piece of creative work finished and into the light of day.

Creative work: My niece in action

But the one thing about the Chronicles is that they begin in the middle. I started this blog when I'd just won (but had not begun) a residential fellowship year to revise my first book MS. What you missed was the beginning of the whole thing, all the anxious fumbling that took place during the dissertation stage, the trying-to-figure-out-what-it-means as it became a book, the constant rearrangements, the grant writing...** In other words, what's missing is what real writers would call my "process." Now, perhaps you don't care about my process. And why should you? I won't be able to say whether it's a good model to follow until if and when the thing is actually a book. But you know what? If I keep writing this blog for the next five years, you're going to get a book project from start*** to finish. So -- appropriately enough, almost exactly a year from the first post on this new project -- here goes:

Since returning from Puddletown, I've been reacquainting myself with my writing. The goal has been to pick a few related documents every day, and to spend a couple of hours freewriting on them, with a goal of getting 600 words a day. Some days I get more; some days (like today) I fall slightly short. But I did crack 20,000 words a couple of days ago. Granted, these are "shitty first draft" words, really little more than freewriting. But I'm back to writing my way in.

Better yet: last night, I wrote up my first-ever rough outline of the project. Now, this is going to be the first of many, I know for a fact. That is the way of things. The project will organize and reorganize and take twists and turns. And I can't let myself think of this first outline as anything other than a guide, a set of rules made to be broken. In fact, I sincerely hope it will change and evolve, because right now, it's got no flash. But it's something.

Want to see it? Okay, here it is:

• Introduction (8,000 words)
• ch. 1: Background: The history of tuna-herding, and the great tuna mortality (8,000 words)
• ch. 2: tuna-herding in local/urban context -- social dimensions (20,000 words)
• ch. 3: tuna-herding in regional context -- political tensions (20,000 words)
• Interlude: sexy topic they made a movie about once (10,000 words)
• ch. 4: tuna-herding in broader "international" context (20,000 words)
• Conclusions (4,000 words)

Yeah, that's a bit short for a monograph, but it'll get bigger, likely. Maybe I'll just say "indeed" a lot. Each of the regular chapters also breaks down into two parts, so there may be a couple of article possibilities there, but really the interlude might make the best article.

To paraphrase something CPP once said in a comment thread here: "Saddle up, motherfuckers: WE RIDE!"

**Hell, you even missed a portion in my post-dissertation research where my entire fucking computer was stolen in a bus station. Complete with all my data, passport, credit cards -- my whole goddamned life in that foreign land. That, my friends, was dramatic.

***For "start," you could start here, with a typically anxiety-driven post. Or you could just click on the "another damn book" tag.


Historiann said...

I'm really glad to hear about your progress, Notorious, but I have to ask: who the frack cares about tuna herding?


Thankyew. Thankyewverramuch.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Easy now, H'ann -- this is just a preliminary outline. At the grant proposal stage, I'll tell you why everyone should care.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

What the fucke is tuna-herding?

Notorious Ph.D. said...

How quickly y'all forget:

Susan said...

Historiann and CPP, EVERYONE knows that without understanding tuna herding, medieval history is incomprehensible. Harumph. I taught medieval history last fall, and I regret to say that the discussion of tuna herding was probably too short.

squadratomagico said...

Do they use dogs in tuna herding? Or tugboats?

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Susan: That's okay -- our semesters are only so long. I'm just pleased that more and more survey textbooks are addressing the tuna-herdingfrage.

@ Squad: You have to keep in mind that these were generally small operations -- well before centralized governments with their tugboat fleets. In my period, we're really talking about one person (usually a child or adolescent) using a tuna-goad to herd them through the streets. So you can see how, in inexperienced hands, things could get out of control.

Anonymous said...

The goal has been to pick a few related documents every day, and to spend a couple of hours freewriting on them, with a goal of getting 600 words a day.

Hey, I do that, though I set myself a certain number of documents rather than a word-count. The files I've built up this way have served me for many years.

Dr. Koshary said...

Sometimes, browsing a blog for the first time leaves a strong impression. This is one such time.

Tuna-herding = love.