Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Mop-Up Trip" ha ha ha!

I've been in the archives & libraries pretty much solid for the past couple of weeks. Hell, it's Saturday night in Blerg City and the neighborhood is jumping... and I've been inside for hours reading a book about Carmelite friars.

Yeah. My life is a nonstop party.

But just a quick thought that occurred to me that I wanted to share before I called it quits for the evening (and it's five minutes till midnight here, so I ought to do just that): When I began this research way back in 2009, I had a vague idea of what I'd be doing. And I collected a bunch of documents. I thought I had most everything I needed, and that this would be a quick mop-up trip. But here's the thing about having a clearer idea of where your project is going: you realize that entire collections of documents that you had previously skipped as irrelevant are now revealing themselves to be highly relevant. And, in fact, you could probably spend another year in the archives before you feel like you've got everything you need. And that this book is going to be a much bigger job than you thought it would even just a couple of months ago.

Or, to put it more succinctly:


Comradde PhysioProffe said...

I'm Gumby, DAMMIT!

Susan said...

Which is both good and bad. When I was doing dissertation research, I met someone who did her research in 6-8 week trips. What she said was that she was much more efficient, because each time she came back, she had a much better sense of what she needed to do, and where the project was going.

Historiann said...

Glad to hear you are doing well. YES to the "esprit de l'escalier," or whatever you want to call it, when you figure out what you REALLY want to know AFTER you've left the archive. Again!