Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm really trying to be philosophical about this.

In a fit of reorganization several weeks ago, inspired by the new organization for the book as a whole, I'd gone through my old files and put them all in a new order, deleting redundancies. Are the document summaries with the transcriptions? Yep, one for each one. Great. So this set of files is redundant and taking up space. Delete. Synchronize all backups.

Except it wasn't redundant. What that deleted set of files was, in fact, represented about six weeks of going through the files, collecting them together in rough groups and started to freewrite a bit about them, noting down things I'd have to track down, possible leads, random musings and the like. It was, in fact, the seeds of a book project, the absence of which I discovered today as I went to look for it to work on a chapter section.

And now it's gone. Completely, irrevocably gone.

As the post title says, I'm trying to be philosophical about this. This was all stuff I'd written up years ago, back when I had no idea where this was all going. And it's possible that these old, unformed thoughts might have dragged me back off the track I'm headed on right now. And I've still got the transcriptions and document summaries.

There's going to be a lot of work I'll need to redo, but I hold out the faint hope that something better will rise from the ashes, unencumbered by my earlier flailing. Really, right now, that hope is all that I've got to go on.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

44, or, La plus ça change... how old I am today. Some facts about my life at this, the halfway point (if I'm very lucky and the damage hasn't already been done):
  • Education/Employment: Gainfully employed in my field, tenured, and about to go up for promotion to full professor
  • Housing: a very nice (albeit small) one-bedroom cottage apartment in a good neighborhood within walking distance of half a dozen coffee shops
  • Transportation: Trek Lexa entry-level road bike
  • Relationship status: happily unattached
  • Most recent international trip: Last summer, to Italy, for a yoga retreat and intensive language courses
  • Best recent accomplishment: Book award
  • Thing that needs to go away: I can't believe I started smoking again. Crap.
  • Overall state of mind: utterly content

At 33:
  • Education/Employment: Just got a job offer and will be headed out to Grit City next week to look for an apartment
  • Housing: Tiny attic studio in the student ghetto that I actually fixed up to be pretty nice... but damn it's hot. And I can be counted on to bash my head against the slanted ceilings at least once every six weeks. And I caught a mouse under the sink -- which is an improvement over the poisonous spiders in the previous place I lived, but still. A mouse.
  • Transportation: Trek 530 hybrid bike, about 10 years old
  • Relationship status: complicated
  • Most recent international trip: Mop-up research trip to Blargistan, during the winter 18 months ago
  • Best recent accomplishment: Defended my dissertation!
  • Thing that needs to go away: See above, re: "relationship status"
  • Overall state: relieved and a bit at sea

At 22:
  • Education/Employment: Just completed first year at a fancy four-year college after two years at community college; working two food service jobs (a fancy restaurant and a coffee shop near school) at about 20 hours a week apiece.
  • Housing: Downtown puddletown apartment in a great 1930s building, shared with a roommate. In this arrangement, I am in the role of obnoxious slob.
  • Transportation: incredibly heavy 5-speed bike (circa 1978) + city bus.
  • Relationship status: [redacted]
  • Most recent international trip: 7-week solo trip to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland two years ago
  • Best recent accomplishment: Accepted to junior year abroad trip to Munich
  • Thing that needs to go away: As with most college students recently turned 21, I am drinking far too much alcohol (spoiler alert: A year in Munich is not going to help in this regard...)
  • Overall state: Pretty screwed up, though blissfully unaware of how much so.

Looked at that way, it looks like I've done better for myself than I've any right to. Happy Birthday to me.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night...

Did I really just read that?

Did this book at an A-list press really just begin with the phrase "Throughout history..."?

Yes. Yes indeed it did.

(The book as a whole is better than that. But still.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Projects, and the Progress

This summer, I have three projects that seem doable:
  1. Finish an article MS and get it sent off;
  2. Use the article MS to draft a book chapter on the same topic;
  3. Write a book proposal that I could also use to apply for grants this fall.
(It helps that #1 & 2 are about pirates.)

How's it been going? Well, I've been working on #1 since June 1, and here's the deal: When I got into the old article file... which I hadn't opened for two years (minus two months), I was delighted to find that I already had over 6,000 words, and many of them were pretty well researched! Also, my "get up and write before breakfast" thing works pretty well, still. I'm closing in on having the thing finished. And -- brace yourself -- I have too many words. This means I actually get to cut some things without starting to get anxieties about dropping below what an editor might consider article length. Plus, the extended length means that I have more to go into the chapter, which will need to be about twice the length of the article.

The current frustration is a minor one: I've reached the point where I need to write a paragraph here, strengthen my support for an argument there, and the like. Which means that I'm reading a lot and writing very little. Today I skimmed 5 of 8 books that I'll need to write approximately 400 words.

Tomorrow morning I sit down and skim yet another book so I can correct a patently stupid assertion I made in a conference paper that nobody called me on.

Stuff like that.

Still, I'm pleased to be back at work on the thing. And I promise to write something more entertaining soon.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's official: I am writing a second book.

This announcement may come as a surprise: not that I'm writing a book -- I've had that "another damn book" tag over in my sidebar for a while, after all -- but that I'm only just now getting around to making it official. But I really consider today my kick-off, because today, I took the first real steps.

That may seem strange to say. I started collecting documents in 2010, after all.[1] And in the summer of that same year, I transcribed, oh, let's say a hundred or so folios and started grouping them into topics to explore, complete with freewriting and ruminations on things I needed to find out about. In the interim, I produced one very short article and a few conference presentations. I drew up lists and bibliographies. But in general, it's felt like I've hardly been working on it at all for years.

And then, just this April, I was (finally!) hit with the inspiration for how this thing should go together. I pulled together a draft proposal and presented to my editor, and received general enthusiasm and a couple of good suggestions. And last week, I organized all the files so I could figure out what I had and where it all was.

But today was different. Today I took the first steps in working on a piece of what will, gods willing, become the book that I now see in my head. It was a small step: I identified a small section that needed filling in, and took notes on a relevant book section, plus identified the other three books I needed to look at to finish what, in the end, will likely amount to no more than 300 words of the finished piece. Yet it's forward motion, with a purpose.

This is my Big Writing Summer. By the end of this summer, I hope to have a draft of a chapter and the rough outlines of a second one, along with an article that dovetails with Chapter Draft One and a well thought-out book proposal.

I have officially embarked on the road to the second book. Wish me luck.

[1] Jeez. Has it really been that long?!?