I’ve been keeping notes and files since I was on the ‘net twelve years ago (my current desktop machine has a terabyte of memory and it isn’t full yet). Last week I started collating my previous annotations from 52 books (and re-reading them as I go). Boiling that all down will be like making a fine whiskey.
Previously, I’d assembled a small clutch of about 25 books on how to write, including media programs from two top-level college programs; one of the most recent books is entitled “The Craft of Research (4th edition)”. Another is an old edition of “The Mansion of History”. Stephen Pressfield’s works enjoy their slots on the bookshelf, as does “Tempo” by Venkatesh Rao. At the top of the list is “A Way of Working”, edited by Dorothea Dooling; I paid 99 cents for that one, but it’s priceless.
My wife bought me two large pegboards so I can play the Post-It Note and push-pin game. [$2.50 at the consignment shop.]
I bought a 32gb encryptable jump drive so I can use either my desktop in the basement or the laptop on the deck. There is nothing secret here; it’s all open source. But nobody reads books anymore; most people are caught up in TV, social media and the chase for income. There are few people who’ve heard of most of these books, and even fewer who’ve read them. I’m going to cull out “the juicy bits”.
I’ve only just begun. I wouldn’t even venture a draft thesis at this point. I think I know what I have, but I have to verify it and update it.
The internal codeword for the project when I started it a decade ago was “mega”. That had to do with the concept of overview, not size.
The current code phrase has to do with understanding what is hidden and obscure.
My high school yearbook noted that a goal was to write a book. I might get there before my 55th reunion.
I want to get this right. I can’t even yet see how big the thing will be. It will be a hard-core history synthesized from multiple sources, about which I must still labor to maintain research and writing integrity, along with personal credibility and personal responsibility for what I say. My intent is thorough references with extensive footnoting with maximized flow and ease of reading. Hopefully, its abrasive edges will be sanded, hand-rubbed, stained and polished. The process will involve at least three waves of editing and re-write.
I’ve set a lofty goal. Pray for me, and cheer me on. This is my personal answer to the five questions I’ve previously noted about peak performance, especially this one:
What is it that I, and only I, can do which, when it is done well, will make a real difference?
I will try to provide progress reports that don’t include spoilers.