Writing Big Year: My dirty secret

The broad 2017 timetable is scribbled on the accompanying image. With sixteen chapters to go, the next 5 quarter-years see the following numbers of chapters falling to my pen: 3 chapters in Q1; 2 chapters in Q2; 4 chapters in Q3; 4 chapters in Q4; 3 chapters in Q5.

Why only two chapters over April to June next year? Because I’m allocating four weeks to working through a couple of shelves of books documenting the rise and triumph of the antinuclear movement in the 1970s and 1980s. This research blitz will be tough but I look forward to it.

But something more insidious causes me much stress. Beyond those books to work through, I have unfinished note-taking to do with some slabs of research material. For a number of years from 2005, I kept folders of hard-copy newspaper clippings and journal articles, before I figured it was best to soft-copy everything and take my “writing-ready” notes as the material came in. This backlog of clipping folders needs to be processed. Ditto for some 500 articles (some profound, some useless) over the 2005-2010 period. I have unprocessed material about safety, waste, etc. A couple of long diaries are only partly processed. Old interview material needs to be dealt with.

In short, although nearly all my research material, the mounds of it, has been absorbed, there is still a ton of it to be covered. Much of this work is really quick and easy but the volume is non-trivial. And I’ve allowed no distinct time for it. I’m doing it “on the side,” amidst the more important wordsmithing.

I don’t begrudge this work, indeed it gives me great pleasure to finalise strands of longtime research. The issue is the anxiety. Day to day, hour by hour, what’s best to do: write or clean up note-taking? I can find no easy answer . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *