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Monday, March 23, 2015

Posting from the library

I've hit the wall for today; I've had a stiff neck all day (no jokes about that being metaphorically apt, please); I've just begun to feel the early signs of a headache, and I still have a fair amount of walking around to do, finishing my loop of work/errands in town for the day, so I figure that by the time I get home, I won't be in a good frame of mind for looking back on the day.

I must say, it does feel good to have finished the review of critical material--unless or until those other sources come in from interlibrary loan. It did occur to me to see whether the local library, where I now sit, has the book I've requested, but no--which is actually a relief.

And I have been sitting here, starting my charge up the hill of the socio-historical context chapter. I carefully went to the shelves and pulled out some books about the '60s for reference: I did live through those years, but I was very young, so I figure there are aspects of what the experience of the '60s would have been like for an adult that I should check against some kind of sources. I'm not turning up anything yet that strikes me as something I need to include beyond my own basic understanding of what mattered--and particularly what mattered in terms of the novel--but there are a few books I want to look at a little more closely. I also imagine I'll engage in the highly sophisticated and arcane research technique known as "look it up on Wikipedia." Enh, good enough. I'm not writing a historical text, after all: I'm just providing some context for students who consider the 1960s pretty much indistinguishable from the 1860s; for them, it's all just ancient history.

I actually make some minor jokes about that in what I'm writing--which may or may not make the final cut. Ditto my acknowledgement that I was around during that time. I know I seem older than Methuselah to my students but the fact that the things I'm talking about took place within the living memory of someone who didn't come out of Tales from the Crypt can help them consider that the history wasn't all that ancient--and I can assure them that, in some ways, plus รงa change, c'est toujours le meme chose.

The same might be said of my blog posts. But I digress.

As I'm mentally combing through the novel and significant events of the '60s, I keep thinking "Oh, yeah, and I should mention that, too"--and then losing what I thought I'd mention. (Note to self: write shit down.) But I trust that eventually whatever it is will drift back to the surface--if it really was important. And, thinking of now versus the 1960s, let me here note how thrilled to bits I am to be writing the thing on a computer--even an antiquated one--instead of having to produce it on an old manual typewriter. I can go back and add things as they occur to me: I can change stuff, move it around, cut it (and save it elsewhere: never, ever throw something away until you know you've finished the project and sometimes not even then), add stuff in. It's bliss. I almost wish I could get a room full of old Royal typewriters and make my students write at least one version of their papers that way--and do a revision that way, too (making "cut" and "paste" return to their original meanings)--so they'll appreciate how easy it is to rework material on a computer.


It's just nice to have moved on to something else: this feels like progress. I don't even care how many pages I managed to squeeze out; it's just nice that I've finished at least the first pass on something. In fact, I may have finished the first pass on several things: once I get through the context chapter, I think I'll print out what I've got and start reading it over, revising on paper: a step I truly need. But even as I start doing that, I've promised myself that, as of April 1, I can turn my attention to the novel itself. I'm sure I'll continue the process as it's worked so far: main focus on one thing but periodic jaunts through other sections as ideas jump out. Working through the novel will mean working on two sections at once: the themes part and the glossary and pronunciation guide. (Did I mention that I ran across a bit in Le Guin's web page in which I learned, to my chagrin, that I've been mispronouncing one of the protagonists' name since I first read the book? I'm mentally practicing the correct pronunciation every time I write the name: Genly, with the G as in "get.")

But this is it for today. Nothing to add to the blog post, just strapping on my pack and hiking off to finish up errands and hike on home. A good day.

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