I started this blog thinking it would be a record of my progress on the new book, so perhaps it’s time for an update as to how things are going. For those working in the university calendar, the summer holiday remains a mythic space where days of uninterrupted writing lay stretched ahead, promising completion of all outstanding projects that have been shelved within the year on the grounds that there wasn’t really time to do them justice. I’ve heard many colleagues refer to “writing I’ve been meaning to get done” in recent weeks, and have used the phrase often enough myself. True, there is preparatory work for the new year that can’t really be left until the summer is over, there are administrative tasks that need a bit of swift attention, and the summer can also be used for other things besides writing, especially with this year’s cricket having been such a welcome boost for English morale. On the whole, though, it’s time when one can, legitimately, hope to ‘get things done’.
So, how is it going? I’ve certainly written a lot, and feel that the project is in better shape than it’s been for a while. I’ve also had some highly productive days in the library, gathering more material that will need to be incorporated and, consequently, prompt re-writing of those sections already done. This reminds me that whilst I’ve ‘got done’ plenty of writing I’ve also unearthed the material that will necessitate my revising it before too long. And, of course, each new source opens up links in other directions as well. The PhD model of ‘read everything for 2 years and then start writing’ (or that, at least, was pretty much my version of it!) doesn’t fit the realities of the project. alas. Library days are squeezed in when they become possible; writing is done when there is time to do it. As a way of working on a book it sometimes feels a bit piecemeal, as though I should be waiting for everything to be gathered together before sitting down to compose the opening lines. I know, though, that if I waited for a such a moment it would never arrive, so it’s better to hammer out something rough than to wait for the fully-rounded article to form in your mind and then type it in a burst of inspiration. So, the current state of play is that whilst I’m getting some writing done, it’s the kind of writing that will, by definition, need to be re-done in the weeks and months ahead. More the ‘little and often’ approach than the mythic summer of creativity, but it feels like progress, which is fine with me.