Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Formatting fun and frolics tonight!

Did I say I'd sorted the headers and footers?  I had, dear reader, I had!  But last night the table of contents wouldn't update.  I wouldn't say I retired to bed crushed, exactly, but I was a tad irritated.

This evening, I went to Blockbuster and Asda.  Walking back through the car-park at Asda, I was thinking about Library Thing, and whether I could call myself an author yet.  (I am; but neither scholarly articles nor magazine fiction is really what they mean.)

Back at the laptop, there ensued a battle between me, the table of contents, and the table of figures.  The table of figures was exceedingly uncooperative.  I would like to think I've won, but we'll check again tomorrow, shall we?!  (And this is being an author?  All part and parcel of the process ...)

And no other editing transpired.  Ah, well.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

There's more to a book than words

 Files, footers and photos

I had a little panic earlier today when my Chapter 5 headers and footers parted company with the earlier and later parts of the book manuscript.  Fortunately, I remembered about inserting section breaks, and rectified the situation without losing either my cool or my chapter!

So far, so good.  But I think I must have had too much caffeine today.  I spent the afternoon feeling decidedly strange.  Luckily a good roast turkey dinner restored my sangfroid, and a nice postprandial nap did the rest.  

Haven't mastered the art of a good close-up picture yet!
Bouncing back up again, it felt like time to brave the new DSLR, to see if I could get photos from the camera to the laptop.  (This could save me having to ask for one or two images from other libraries, if I can get good enough images.  Watch this space.)  I did transfer the images.  I don't think I've found the best way to photograph printed matter yet, though. See what I mean about there being more to a book than words?!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nettles and dock leaves: does anyone know of a proverb?

After fiddling about all morning  (reorganising my bookshelves, taking a son to the optician at lunchtime, and sorting out laundry), I finally settled down to think about working on my Chapter 5 draft.  This is the new chapter that started life as a conference paper, begged for consideration as an article but never quite got finished, and has been extensively reworked in the past few weeks.

You wouldn't believe how long it's possible to spend looking for an old proverb about nettles and dock-leaves, that - it would appear - was never actually formulated as a proverb but was just a bit of folklore!

Due acknowldgements to BBC website:Bill Oddie at Loch Lomond
An extensive Google search, WITH speech marks, brought up a saying that I never heard before:-

'Nettle in, Dock;
Dock in, Nettle out
Dock rub Nettle out.
Or an enchanting, unattributed poem.

Whereas, what I really wanted was what I was always brought up to believe: where there are nettles, you're sure to find dock leaves nearby.  Hmph.  My dictionary of quotations has nothing of the sort - only 'grasping the nettle'.  (You could say that I grasped the nettle by trying to find the non-existent proverb!)

And why did a musicicologist want a proverb about nettles and dock leaves?  Well, it's to do with "you can't have one without the other".  Two things that go together.  And because I'm writing about natural metaphors, I wanted a natural metaphor of my own.  Is that asking too much?  Apparently, yes.

I abandoned the search and broke off to bake bread and make a casserole, then watched the Big Bang Theory (don't ask me to share which Sheldon trait I was able to empathise with!), and finally got back to Chapter 5 with a suitable sense of purpose.  Oh, yeah!  I worked on the paragraph that I saved to Evernote over coffee-break at work yesterday.  It has grown to three quite substantial paragraphs now, but I'm happy with it.  I was able to incorporate ideas I was recommended to think about, a year or so ago.   

Now I need to go over the rest of the chapter to see if I can polish or tighten anything up, and check that it ends satisfactorily.  But maybe not at 22:50 on a Saturday night!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I bought a couple of books ...

I had a free night tonight - well, I say 'free', but it wasn't really free at all.  (There was the emergency dash to Sainsbury's, for a start.)

Home I came.  Sorted out domesticities.  Sorted out papers.  And thought about the author of an interesting article in THE last week.  That led me to thinking about American universities, which made me think about rhetoric again, which seems to be taught more in the US than the UK - though I could be totally and utterly wrong about this.  After all, I'm a musicologist, not a literary theorist.

Nonetheless, it would be useful to know more about rhetoric, wouldn't it?  So here I am, having ordered a couple of books.  Written nothing.

And what have I done for my own book today?  Sourced a potential illustration, and established that I can't instantly lay my hands on another.  Must try to source a Beethoven song as published by Thomson.  Tomorrow, maybe ....

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

And, taking another deep breath, she resumed her task ...

It occurs to me I need to recap for anyone who has stumbled upon this blog recently.  Because I'm really quite sane and sorted, even though I can appear off the wall at times.

I have a book contract, and the manuscript is due in at the end of April.  Since I also have a full-time job as a librarian, I have to plan my spare (musicological) time carefully.  Technically, I am supposed to have finished work on my (new) Chapter 5 by the end of this week, so I can get going on Chapters 6-8 between the 5th March and 2nd April, and that will leave me four weeks to sort out images.

In book terms, it's looking good.  I've written Chapter 5, though I have recently read a whole bucketload of commentary on nineteenth century poetry, bardic nationalism and sundry other just-about-related topics, and in the next four days I need any additional thoughts to be incorporated into the chapter.  I've even thought (a bit) about images.

So what's the problem?  Oh, nothing major.  I mean, if I can't SCAN the images to a publishable standard, I just have to pay another organisation to do them for me.  (I haven't yet learned how to get images from my digital SLR to my new laptop, which appears to be a more recent version of Windows than the SLR was designed for.)

Neither is it a problem that I've just read such a wide range of stuff that my head is reeling: eighteenth century atmospheric gases are intermingled with early nineteenth century maternal anxieties about wet-nursing (the nurses were more in touch with the balladic culture than were the upper-class mums); and then we have Tennyson's Hebrew poems, Aeolian harps, fluttering breezes with or without harps, bards ditto ... yikes, who would have thought there was so much out there!

Same alcove, but new computer now 
No; my main concern just now is that not only do I have to finish a book manuscript: I now also have to write and deliver five lectures (an absolute pleasure, despite the pressures of time); revise a paper for one conference and write a fresh one for another.  Ho-hum.  

I think it may soon be time to book a little more annual leave, for the preservation of sanity and equanimity!

Monday, 20 February 2012

A little bewildered

Nephew. Own sons wouldn't want to be in my blog!
Poets I can handle.  Nationalist novels I thought I understood.  Political versus cultural nationalism?  Got it.  I was even okay with the different symbolism in an Aeolian as opposed to a Celtic harp. So much for self-inflicted background reading, to make sure my Chapter 5 wasn't missing anything crucial.

This evening, however, I reached the point where I was reading about maternal breastfeeding versus wet-nursing at the turn of the nineteenth century.  Believe me, I do 'get' the point about wet-nurses offering young children a link with a traditional culture that their own upper-class mothers wouldn't be able to share with them.  And maternal anxiety about children being closer to their wet-nurses than to their own mothers.  (Don't we working mothers share that anxiety about daycare today?)  But - oh, please, I don't think I can go on reading this.  Not when I'm meant to be thinking about minstrels and metaphors in national Celtic song collections.  It's just a step too far.

At the same time, I'm looking at my publisher's handout on indexing - with some interest, I must admit, because I am a librarian after all! - and when I'm not thinking about background reading or indexing, I find myself fretting about images and how much they're going to cost me.  

And over and above all that, there's the day-job.  

My mind is like a lump of bread-dough, adhering to the counter and simultaneously being pulled in all directions by ten very sticky fingers.  The sooner this particular 'loaf' is put in a tin and baked, the better!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

See these bards?

Bards everywhere
To use the Glasgow vernacular, 'See thae bards? They're pure dead brilliant, so they are'.  They're also rather demanding.  They've been sitting roon ma' hoose all weekend, looking sorrowful and ireful alternately, in their long goonies, wi' their straggly unkempt hair and mournful clarsachs - broken strings an' a' - demanding that I pay them appropriate attention, notwithstanding my having had a migraine for three consecutive days.  And will they even play me a tune?  No.

With a view to enhancing my new book Chapter 5, I've looked at two texts on romantic poetry (as in, 1790-1830s, not the Valentine's Day kind of romantic).  And now - to explain my reference to bards - I'm reading Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism, which I've been meaning to do for a long time.  So that's all good.

I've also got my dining room strewn with Lowland Scots songs, trying to decide which to use as illustrations at appropriate points in my book.  I've played a few on the piano, and done a few experimental scans, only one of which pleases me enough to be a candidate for the manuscript submission.  Alas, a chaotic dining room is not good for a migraine, because the chaos flusters me, and that makes the headache worse.

To get away from both bards and Lowland Scots, I swam 32 lengths this morning.  I'd like to be able to say that it helped, but sadly, it didn't.

I think I'll clear away the clutter and then get back to Trumpener.  One thing at a time is more calming than excessive multitasking ...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wondering what I'm up to!

Once upon a time, there was a loose-knit community of song-collectors and writers of national 'songs' (well, verses).  I strayed into their midst, and felt very much at home.  (Let's not split hairs and argue that they lived in and around 19th century Edinburgh, whilst I'm in 21st century Glasgow.)   A thesis was written; and now a book is being born.

But wait! Before chapter 5 was born, some supplementary reading was suggested to me.  Six big, fat books, of which four are more literary than musicological.  I've drafted my chapter, but I still want to do the reading, just in case there are some ideas I can incorporate or allude to.

Enter M. H. Abrams' English Romantic Poets (1975), and a couple of early essays therein.  Oh, my!  This evening, I've read about literary Romanticism, and had a little deviation around the internet -  and then Amazon - learning that my 1820s metaphors can be analysed, according to the rules of rhetoric, into vehicle, tenor and ground.  I've resisted the temptation to buy a book about rhetoric.  (Nigella Lawson's Domestic Goddess is also beckoning, though I've resisted her blandishments too, today.)

Rose by night
And I can tell you that I am now able to recognise the vehicle, the tenor and the ground in my 1820s song paratexts.  (But if you want to know what they are, you'll have to wait to read the book!) 

This nocturnal rose, by the way, is the vehicle for a metaphor in which the song is the tenor, and the ground is the fact that both songs and author (me, writing this blog) are blooming late.  Pardon the pun.

Monday, 13 February 2012

True Imaginary Friends nearly got me into hot water this morning

There I was, innocently eating a solitary breakfast (it's the mid-term break and everyone else was in bed) - when - BOOM! - an unsolicited Bright Idea shot into my head.  Suddenly,  I'm at the laptop, mini-Weetabix to one side, hastily typing away this bijou little insight of mine.  So I only just had time for a shower, if I was going to get to work on time.  Thanks, Ladies Morgan and Nairne.  True friends, as I've been saying.  I made it on time, anyway, and no thanks to the Subway for not having a single ticket machine OR credit-card machine in operation.

Anyway, that was it until I got back from the colloquium this evening.  Back to Chapter 5, where I got the new paragraph comparing Ladies M & N, into the appropriate place, and then to Chapter 4 to clarify another point that had been preying on my mind.  Well, I say 'clarify'.  Actually, what I did was confess that the authorship of certain prefaces wasn't as clear-cut as one would think.  Authorial honesty is a great thing.  (I would ask Lady N to back me up, but she's in no position to do so, and I won't ask her to compromise her already compromised position.)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

What have I DONE this weekend?!

Nice healthy swim
I drowned in domesticity this weekend.  All the usual stuff - no need to list it here.  I even fitted in a nice healthy 30 lengths at the local pool, without drowning.

Alas, I don't seem to have done much (anything?) on Chapter 5.  I did a couple of revisions that I'd flagged up on Friday.  I've spent an hour tidying up papers and notes.  And last night I thought I had a brainwave, so I tried to follow it through.  And tried again this evening.  Suffice to say that it wasn't much of a brainwave after all.  It could be, I grant you, but to make it a genuine brainwave would entail at least ...
  • Sourcing as many early volumes of Moore's Irish Melodies as a 9-5 worker can access in Glasgow
  • Looking at all six volumes of R A Smith's Scotish Minstrel again (similar constraints)
  • Looking at Jones' Welsh Musical and Poetical Relicks and subsequent Bardic Museum, in depth (ditto)
Sitting at the piano for an hour or two, with a later compilation of Moore, and a couple of songs each from the other books, was insufficient.  Similarly listening to some Moore CDs.  Moreover, whilst I love Moore's Irish Melodies with a passion that surprises me, if I hear another high-pitched soprano singing in the register an octave above middle C tonight, I shall scream.   Wherever you are, dear reader, you'd probably hear me, but I've taken steps to obviate this.  The CD player has been unplugged.

So much for the brainwave.  I sense a conference paper there, but not in the immediate future.  Meanwhile, back to the chapter.  I think I'll read through what I've written, carefully.  And put my pile of reading in chronological order so I can skim them without risking backward references to things I haven't yet seen.  

Our dinner guest bought Chardonnay.  What's left, is in the fridge.  Might be an incentive to get on with the chapter for an hour or so, first?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Fits and starts. fanfares and shouts

Well, after the burst of activity last weekend and Tuesday/Wednesday this week, yesterday was back to the day-job, nursing a migraine.  A fraught day at work was followed by choir practice at night.  My imaginary friends were, truth to tell, perfectly happy to take a break.

Today - another tense day, it has to be said - my imaginary friends are still resting.  Mind you, as I travelled in on the subway, I spotted a couple of passages in Chapter 5 that literally cried out, "Repetition!" (the first bit) and "Come on, you can say more than that!" (the second).  I put them right in one of my tea-breaks.  So maybe I'll just type them up, and call it quits for the night.

I heard yesterday that I'd won an essay competition with the Library and Information History Group.  It was for a paper that I published in Library and Information History journal in 2010. This achievement is very satisfying - a validation of my research and my self-esteem as an author. I've been a published author for over two decades, but not - shhh! - not all of it was scholarly stuff.  By no means.  (This does mean I've got a bit more expertise at characterisation, dialogue and plot, than some of my peers -but scholarly writing tends not to need dialogue and plot quite as much as fiction does!)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Just a little excited: Chapter 5 first draft!

 Which many a bard had chanted many a day

Boy, have I worked the past few days!  I've spent the best part of the weekend researching prior to writing, and took two days' annual leave (yesterday and today), so that I could concentrate on chapter 5 of my book.  This was the new chapter, which was being built using an unpublished paper as a launchpad.

I'm happy to say that it worked.  I have a first draft!

There is a moral to be learned, though.  (If I ever write another book, I'm sure this insight will be useful.)  Never, ever assume that if you have an unpublished paper, it will just meekly lie down and let you cut it open, perform minor surgery and stitch it up again. It won't.

I knew I'd need to do corrections, and improve dodgy passages.  (Call that a spot of liposuction and the odd implant.)  I suspected I might need to move things around a bit.  However, I didn't realise that the patient would end up having a triple bypass and a multi-organ transplant.

Note, this is just the first draft.  I still want to do the pile of reading that I haven't yet got round to.  If it prompts me to do any changes, at least I'll be changing something concrete.  I do have plenty of time in hand.  According to my schedule, I had a month to revise Chapter 4 and turn the unpublished paper into Chapter 5.  I'm so far ahead of schedule that I'm just two days into that month.  Looking hopeful.

Maybe I can even award myself the rest of the evening off.  Heaven forbid! That'd be a first...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hmm. Worked my socks off, but still not enough

  • Virtually no checking Twitter.
  • Very little email checking.
  • Absolutely no Whittaker Live blogging.
  • Absolutely no checking my work email account.
  • Come to think of it, no reading of the reading pile either!

Socks worked off
Honestly, I've worked my socks off.  Yes, we went out to lunch, but apart from that, I've sat, and I've worked.  And worked some more.  And what have I achieved?  Another 1100 words.  So I've worked through about one quarter of the 'paper' which is going to become Chapter 5.  More will go in, and more will come out, before it is anything LIKE the chapter that's in my head.  

If I don't get more than this done tomorrow, I'll know I'm in for the long haul.  Why are these bards being so obdurate?  It's not even that I don't know what to say.  I've certainly spent time sourcing the odd 18th-century poem or essay, but I've also spent time writing.  Real writing, notes on paper, and lines on Word.


Monday, 6 February 2012

Chapter 5 - Wandering minstrels and mournful bards

A tentative start has been made: I've written 650 words introducing Chapter 5.  But I've got to tread carefully.  I'm STARTING with the unpublished paper, but some bits need deleting, others extending, and then there are the Welsh bards who insist on getting a mention, despite the fact that this is a book about Scottish song collecting.  

Clearly, the Welsh bards need to be reminded of their place! Fascinating though they may be, they have to remain in the wings for at least most of the chapter.  But they're a pushy lot ... they'd stage a takeover bid if I let them.

And my other problem is precisely that I have written about some of this before elswhere.  But the present chapter has to be different and better.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

I know there's a chapter in there - just not this one

Museum of Modern Art, with thanks
You know how you sometimes drive into a new town, or housing estate, and you know your friend lives there - but their map bears no resemblance to the roads you're driving on?

That's where I'm at.  I thought Chapter 5 was basically going to be the metaphors paper I had authored a couple of years ago.  And some of it certainly is.  But Chapter 5 is NOT that paper.  I've moved on; the paper is very clearly something from an earlier iteration of my thinking.

Rather than merely reducing Chapter 4 to headings and then working on turning a paper into Chapter 5, I have to reduce both Chapter 4 AND the paper into headings, compare and remove duplication, work out what's worth keeping, and then devise a structure for Chapter 5, incorporating parts of the paper, but also admitting a substantial amount of new material.  Yikes.

AND there's a mountain of reading that other folk have suggested.  Six books piled high, and a seventh* in the lounge.  Maybe I won't be writing today.  Just note-taking.  Sigh!

* By a rather nice coincidence, which I'm sure Sir Walter Scott would have approved, I found my late Father-in-law's copy of Waverley in the attic.  (It had been a Sunday School prize in January 1914.)   I never met Bill McAulay - but he'd surely have been surprised to know that his prize was being used in the writing of a book on Scottish song collecting, 98 years later.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Quite satisfied with Chapter 3: now preparation for transplant!

A re-reading of Chapter 3 tonight led to a few miniscule improvements, but I must confess I'm quite satisfied with it.  I think I've done justice to my old friend Alexander Campbell, and acknowledged where James Hogg and Walter Scott helped him out. 

Supermarket trip out of the way this evening, I can now devote Saturday and much of Sunday to the careful perusal of Chapter 4 to reduce it to a series of headings.  We're coming to the transplantation of a new Chapter 5, so obviously the patient has to be prepared for the operation!  The transplant needs a little work, too - that's the more challenging aspect.  Let's hope my written style hasn't changed.

Anyway, I've allowed myself the next four weeks for this stage, so I should be able to proceed delicately and carefully.  Gloves on, pass me my scalpel ...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chapter 3

Tomorrow evening, I'll re-read Chapter 3 and start on Chapter 4.  

(Much could be said about images, but I'll blog about it another time.  I have ideas for which I'd like to use, but I haven't really got to grips with book images yet.) 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Of mice and men

I live in a house with four men.  Well, three at the moment - the fourth is away.  Another found a wireless mouse that he didn't think he needed, and gave it to the boys.  Jubilation all round.

For two days.  Today, the mouse wasn't working.  New batteries? Yes, but now the keyboard wasn't working.  Reboot. Change of user.  Keyboard still working, but mouse jumping.  And it's an ESSAY CRISIS ... we need a new mouse-mat.  Strangely, there isn't one in the house. 

I work full-time, and I'm working on a book in my "spare" time.  Still, an essay crisis is an essay crisis. I deal with them regularly, 9-5.  Asda had mouse mats.  HALLELUJA!

I still have a crisis of my own.  Mine is worse - I have supplied the wrong picture of the wrong bard, to go with a journal article.  In flowing robes rather than britches.  I'm so embarrassed.  And meanwhile, two whole lovely bookwriting hours have been dissipated.  I've owned up, and now I'm waiting to see what can be done.  Oh, I'm a clot!

Tea to hand, I shall get on with reading the article that must be read before I metaphorically sign off Chapter 3 and start the serious work required for Chapters 4 and 5.  If the mice and the men will leave me alone long enough to get on with it!