Tuesday, 31 January 2012

True Imaginary Friends somewhat neglected

Well, blame the Inland Revenue!  Fear of a fine is enough to make the average author's head duck BENEATH the clouds to face harsh reality.  But now, to quote Sullivan's Mikado,

'The Threatened Cloud has passed away' (turn up the sound)
How can I put my head back in clouds that have theoretically passed away?  Anyway, you know what I mean.  I can get on with the task in hand.  (Which will, after all, lead to revenue.  What goes around comes around, to quote an old expression.  Cliche upon cliche upon cliche there.)

I was going to copy an article that I need to read, but commonsense tells me that my printer is so SLOW compared to the photocopier at work, that I'll better spend my time READING some of the article, and copying it tomorrow for future reference.  What else do I need to do this week?  Ponder about illustrations, go and look at Shield's music treatise, and make sure I've really finished with Chapter 3 before moving onto Chapter 4. 

So, without further ado, I'd better start reading.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Seratonin rules OK: food for thought

Here are some suggestions:-
  • Bread and butter pudding and Sauvignon combine fantastically well to make one feel at one with the world.  
  • However, today I can announce that the same effect can be achieved with haggis, neeps and tatties followed by apple crumble.  Everyone pronounced themselves well-fed, then I got on with revising the ms.
I allocated until next weekend to get to the end of Chapter 3, so I'm technically ahead of myself.  However, I have a couple of suggestions to consider, so they're next on the agenda. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

A way to avoid chocolate binges

Exeter University sent me an alumni newsletter today.  Recent research findings from my second alma mater tell me I should walk, to keep off the chocolate. I shall have to try this!

I confess to having indulged in chocolate as I got down to my manuscript revisions this evening, though.  Give me a break! I'd done a day's work and the supermarket run.  Chocolate is the least I deserve.  (They were only from the 75% reductions in Boots' Sale, anyway. 75% less calories, 75% less fat ...) 

As I thought about late 18th and early 19th century collections, I listened to William Boyce's Symphonies.  Just a little earlier than "my" collectors.  

I'm now 50 pages ahead of schedule, and that leaves me looking forward to revising chapter 3 this weekend.  With that in mind, I listened to My Gentle Harp,Una Hunt's boxed set of Moore's Irish Melodies - contemporary with my Chapter 3 people, albeit a different Celtic repertoire!  I'm toying with the idea of taking a couple of days' holiday soon, so I can lock myself up in Glasgow University Library's Special Collections and think about images.  (And also sneak a peek at William Shield's 19th century music treatise, since I clearly wouldn't find it on Eighteenth Century Collections Online.  My enquiring mind will be the death of me!)  Glasgow is my fourth alma mater.  

Erm - and I can't totally rule out a trip to Aberystwyth - my third alma mater - to investigate Iolo Morganwg et al.  I'm resisting, but his siren-like call is most enticing!  Shh, don't tell anyone!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Still ahead of myself

I'm 30 pages ahead of schedule with my revisions, which is satisfying.  I struggled to enthuse spouse with the FABULOUS Scots Musical Museum pdf on Internet Archive, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland last year.  He raves about pictures of trams, but struggled to get excited about James Johnson's historic collection.  Strange ...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Flying high, but no flights of fancy

The 'blurb', acknowledgements, introduction and Chapter 1 are edited - I'm slightly ahead of schedule.  (If you're curious to know what the book is about, so far I've dealt with my late-18th century Highland song collectors; and I'm about to focus on their Lowland counterparts in Chapter 2: Robert Burns and co.) 

On Burns Night, maybe I should now find an appropriate CD and - well, not exactly let my hair down, but at least chill a little.  I seem to have been thinking about Burns on and off all day!  (Celebrating the Bard was the serious posting.  Wan ye were jist a wean is just a piece of my own nonsense.)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

And we're off! With a daily quota

In the next fortnight, I need lightly to revise my Introduction, and Chapters 1-3.  Although that takes me to p.124, it actually averages out at eight to nine pages a day.  So, theoretically, if I whizz through some pages, and dally on others, I ought to end up on p.124 on approximately the right date.  After all, this is a light revision and not a rewrite.

I have queried about footnotes, wondering if I ought to incorporate the wordier ones into the text.  There's no imperative to do so.  My format is acceptable; and I know that I've been pretty consistent in applying it.  (I'm not a cataloguing librarian for nothing!)

Monday, 23 January 2012

(Take a deep breath) ... Right, let's look at the Grand Plan again

Time to take stock.  Actually, I seem to be on target.  I've read the whole thesis through, removed all mention of "thesis", contemplated improvements, taken steps to get materials needed, and started thinking about illustrations.  (Shudder!)

And spent today's lunchbreak trying to source William Shield's two musical treatises.  1800? No problem; digitised on ECCO. 1815? Big problem.  Too late for ECCO, not on GoogleBooks or Internet Archive.  Will I have to take a half-day to go visit the Real Thing at the Uni Library?  It's just to verify a single sentence, but it matters to me ...!
  • w/c 9 Jan - Read through, ponder, get any materials needed, think about illustrations.Yes.
  • w/c 23 Jan - Here we go! On target to start seriously on revising intro & chapts 1-3.  
  • w/c 6 Feb - Weeks 5-8 for chapts 4 & new 5. 
  • w/c 5 Mar - Weeks 9-12 for chapts 6-8 & bibliog. 
  •  w/c 2 April - 4 weeks in hand. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Life keeps getting in the way

I didn't entirely get through my weekend task this weekend. (I had five pages of comments and suggestions to work through.  I've done three and a half of them.)  Mind you, I've done shopping, laundry, cooking, sundry domesticities, and renewed the bath sealant  ...

 In order to get on with things, I leapt out of bed just after 8.30 am today, which for a Sunday - and an organist's day off to boot - is not bad.  Hastily breakfasted, dressed, washed the car (see above) ..

But NONE of this gets the book manuscript completed!  In fairness, I've spent several hours pondering suggestions for improvements, and making a few.  One innocent little "tell us more" comment led to hours of reading before I was able to "tell" the appropriate story!  I'm a little frustrated at the slow rate of progress.  A further frustration was being unable to access Dundee's Wighton Database.  Don't say they've pulled the plug on that marvellous resource!

After a relaxing afternoon being sociable, it was back to the editing after tea and a snooze.  It's strange how at 10.30 pm, I was feeling alive and fulfilled, but by 11.30 pm, I've run out of steam and have neither concentration nor an intelligent thought left in my brain.  It's probably time to stop, then ...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Taking stock

I allowed myself two weeks, 'to read through, ponder, think about suggestions, get any material needed, and think about illustrations.'

The book starts here!
At the time of writing this, I have one weekend left.  I've read through my thesis, substituted synonyms for 'thesis' (book, monograph, study, discussion, narrative ...), made a few notes, and started thinking about illustrations.  I haven't thought about other folks' suggestions, though.  

It is going to be a busy weekend!  For on Monday 23rd, I need to start serious work on the introduction and chapters 1-3.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

No, I didn't

What?  No work on the book today? 

Well ... I went and collected Welsh songbook photocopies from the Mitchell Library at lunchtime.  Dual-purpose, IAML(UK & Irl) talk and perhaps informative for the gestating Chapter 5.  (Got drenched in snowy rain; shoes leaked, socks crept, and I never really warmed up all afternoon.  All in the name of Celtic song.)

And I ordered up an Inter Library Loan on Iolo Morganwg - the imaginary friend I'm dying to meet - for the same dual-purpose.

But Thursday nights are choir nights.  Do I want to start reading the thesis again at 10 pm.  Oh go on, then - you've persuaded me.  I'll just put the immersion on for a nice hot soak later.  (Christmas bubblebath is very tempting!)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Thwarted! I'm no longer "special"

I can't complain if I'm no longer a "Special Reader". Though it's annoying to check your account at home; see NOTHING to indicate that your status has changed; drive to the library; and find you can neither get IN past the barrier without help, nor borrow on the self-issue machine.  Oh, fie!  Sometimes it's good to use a different library, so one doesn't forget what it's like to be a reader rather than a librarian.  But that means all those lovely Iolo Morganwg books remain on the shelves rather than coming home with me, and that means I'm prevented from spending time with my new imaginary friend.

It has been a very library day. I spent a couple of peaceful hours examining Welsh song books in Glasgow's Mitchell Library.  These will be mentioned in my IAML talk in Cardiff.  I've ordered photocopies of some paratextual material, so I can pore over it at my leisure.  Back to "my own" library, consuming chips en-route, but forgetting to have a lunch-break.  (D'oh, as Homer Simpson would say.)

So that's why I was knackered by the end of the day.  That was before I had my abortive Uni library trip; and since then, I've typed up my Mitchell Libray notes.

What about The Book?, you might ask.  Well, it's pending.  I've spent hours on research, but none on the manuscript today.  Tomorrow's another day.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

This is a BOOK!

Oh, my!  I've now scoured 203 pages of my manuscript for the tell-tale "thesis" word - indeed, I even caught a "dissertation" creeping around in the undergrowth a little while ago.

However, looking on the bright side, I find that I really need to remove very little from Chapter 4 before I work on the new Chapter 5.  I'm very relieved that I do genuinely have a good chunk of new material to form the basis of the new chapter. 

Crikey - just a few sentences, and already I have romantic imagery - "creeping around in the undergrowth" and a good old Enlightenment respect for the genuine!  Have I become my thesis, or has my thesis become me?

Two and a half hours' work - I think that's enough for tonight.  Tomorrow I have the rare treat of a couple of hours studying early sources - Welsh ones, this time - at Glasgow's Mitchell Library Special Collections.  Primarily for a paper I'm giving at the IAML(UK) conference, but I'll have the magnifying glass at the ready for any metaphors that sneak up on me!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Affectionate remembrance

Right, I've done the first skimmed read of my thesis chapter 2 now.  Expunged all references to "this thesis".  (How many words can you find to replace "thesis"?  Book, monograph, study, narrative, account.  Haven't yet found anywhere where "survey" or "analysis" can appropriately be inserted, but give me time.) 

I need to look at another ten pages tonight, to keep up to speed on this. So, farewell to James Johnson, the crusty, pernickety but likeable Joseph Ritson (you'll gather that I can't help but like the miserable old bugger!), and George Thomson, and good evening to my dear friend Alexander Campbell.  Whose descendants, I might add, must have been astounded by the amount I was able to tell them about their forefather!

All of these gentlemen would probably be no less surprised that an English working mother is actually a degree'd "Doctor", than that she went to the public baths, put on a swimsuit and swam 30 lengths before settling down to her authorial pursuits this evening.  How times have changed.

As I work, I have various active lists: the 'add to my bibliography' list on Mendeley; the 'consider using this as an illustration' list; and the 'tangental thoughts' list for distractions that I must not think about until later!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday evening, late

Well, over the weekend, I've finished taking notes on Phyllis Kinney's book (Welsh Traditional Music). I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not doing another PhD on Welsh song collecting!  Just making comparisons for Chapter 5.  But I shall have to examine some of these sources, however cursorily.

Today, I've started going through my book draft.  If I can get through 50 pages in a day, that's not too bad.  Not an exhaustive effort, just a preliminary skim to remind myself what is where, and remove any obvious references to "this thesis"!

Must admit that it's a bit surreal, reading and thinking about my "true imaginary friends" - all polite, Enlightenment Scots so far - while 21st century teens rampage hormonally upstairs ...

Still, quite a satisfactory authorial weekend.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hey ho, hey ho, it's Iolo to go

The sans-serif font doesn't work with this Welsh name!  It's Iolo, not Lolo.  Iolo Morganwg, song collector and Welsh culture faker extraordinaire.  And now I have a problem.  This new 'imaginary friend' is distracting me from my purpose of finishing a book primarily about Scottish song collecting!

I have a short reading-list about Iolo, and I'd love to follow it all up.  I can't.  Some of it's in Welsh, for a start.  Anyway, I have to establish whether I can find any pertinent English writings by Iolo about the matters that matter to me, and devour them efficiently.  Then get back to the book.  My book.

Could any of my new-found Welsh compatriots (yes, my father came from Newport, Gwent, so although he was geographically only just Welsh, he considered himself Welsh) please tell me how to pronounce Morganwyg?  Before I make a fool of myself?  To add to my inability to speak Gaelic (though I have had a few lessons), I have to confess that I speak not one WORD of Welsh.

I see a small window of opportunity to spend half an hour making notes on Phyllis Kinney's book, so I'd better get back to it.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Catching up on Welsh song-collectors

No, I cannot get up at 6 am!  Three successive mornings have confirmed that.

However, I've spent Tuesday evening and Wednesday coffee-time finishing reading Phyllis Kinney's Welsh Traditional Music, published only last year.  And this evening making notes.  This may not be directly related to my book, but my new chapter is going to draw in relevant parallels between Scottish, Irish and Welsh collections of the early 1800s, so it's quite important that I know not only what is out there, but also what's significant about it.

Kinney takes a different approach to me.  There's lots of detail and comparison between individual harp tunes and song airs, whilst I've taken more of an overview, and looked at what the compilers' attitudes tell us about literary and cultural belief.  Nonetheless, it's an excellent book, and I've been in seventh heaven when I come across Welsh collectors' compilers whose work meshes so beautifully with what "my" Scottish collectors were doing at the same time. There's one in particular that I can't WAIT to find out more about - truly exciting.

Oh, and in my lunch-break today, I put in a bit of work on my Mendeley Crowdsourcing the Celtic Bard group bibliography, updated my Tiki-Toki timeline (I have two - this is the chronology) and likewise my Crowdsourcing wiki. Because I'll need all this not only for the chapter, but also for my IAML (UK and Irl) paper.  Busy times, but fun.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Not an Early Bird

Not a dicky bird at all, indeed.  My alarm woke me at 6 am, and I leapt out of bed with a spring in my step.  Oh, yes.  Then I sprang straight back into bed for another hour.

Not to worry - I've requested a handful of books to shore up my arguments in the new Chapter 5, so that at least constitutes progress.

And bought Office 7, and done the domestic stuff and the parental stuff and demonstrated my total ignorance of the new drivers for my scanner, which apparently makes me a Worm and No Man.  Never mind - tomorrow's another day.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Grand Plan

Here's the plan

Initially, I calculated that if I had 110K words, and 112 days, then I needed to edit 1000 words a day, or 7000 words a week.  But that's too mechanical, as it works out the same whether editing, overhauling or writing.

So then I came up with Plan B: 

I have 16 weeks, in which to edit 8 chapters - including a good bit of work on the new one, plus introductory stuff, and checking the bibliography:-
2 weeks commencing 9 January to read through my thesis, ponder, think about suggestions, get any materials needed, and think about illustrations.
2 weeks commencing 23 Jan: work on intro & chapts 1-3. 
4 weeks commencing 6 Feb: chapts 4 & new 5. 
4 weeks commencing 5 Mar: chapts 6-8 & bibliography.
4 weeks commencing 2 April: should have 4 weeks in hand. 

Well, does this look feasible?  Bear in mind all but the new chapter 5 are written in their entirety, and chapter 5 is in draft form, but it won't "work" until I've revised chapter 4 before it. 

Now, here's the SCARY bit: I plan to write for an hour from 6-7 am each morning.  I am categorically not a morning person.  So - watch this space!

I have a book contract!

I have a book contract! The title of this blog comes from the mug I've just bought.  It reads,Writer's Block: when your imaginary friends refuse to talk to you. My imaginary friends were real people - Scottish song collectors, mainly 19th century. Most of my book is written. Follow my journey to publication...