One of the best pieces of writing advice I got as an undergraduate was from my first medievalist mentor: "Write your introduction last. You can't write it until you actually know what you're introducing." I still think that's good advice, but with a caveat: you write the first draft of your introduction after the first draft of the work. Then you revise the work, and revise the introduction. And again. And again.
I started the introduction to this book MS almost two years ago, back when I had to give a presentation at Fellowship Institute (see here and here for the tale, and here for my realization that it actually was the introduction that I had been writing). It's gone through some changes: a lot of the gratuitous theory references have been moved to the footnotes, and are only alluded to in the text. I've added more concrete background for the nonspecialist. And since most of the chapters took their final shape only after I had written my presentation, there were a lot of changes.
Still, today I read over my introduction, and I was taken back to about 21 months ago, when these ideas were new, and I was having epiphanies left and right. Some of them turned out to be very important; others, less so. But that ongoing wrestling with the big ideas was just that: ongoing. The thought of the journey from there (and even further back) to here, one week before submission, has got me feeling a bit reflective. So expect a few more navel-gazing posts over the next couple of weeks.
Your humble correspondent, pictured here with a lapful of vintage theory, 21 months ago in Fellowship City office.