Yay! Yay! Yay! Happy, glorious, wonderful day!
So, I failed to do all the research. I didn’t feel like I’d done ANYTHING like enough. Most of the books I recalled haven’t come back to the library yet (3 weeks later!). (And see the packing-tape disaster and the three-day-migraine for why I’m behind on my online research).
AND YET, I started writing anyway. 1,281 words across 4 pomodoros. (That’s Shut Up and Write on Wednesday morning; and then teaching Generative writing to a retreat of Indigenous researchers on Thursday afternoon when we did some pomodoros together, and I got 600 words down each time).
HUH?! I hear you say. YOU CAN’T start writing till before you’ve read the biography! You can’t start writing before you’ve read the Collected Poems!
So here’s the technique I’m using this time: insertion.
So, how does insertion work? It starts with a source text, a foundational starting point. For me the Australian Dictionary of National Biography entry, but it could be a seminal reading, or a theoretical approach. Basically, someone else gives you the scaffold.
You use the scaffold to give you structure.
You then expand each of their points. So, the ADNB says that Slessor got his first poems published in The Bulletin. I don’t know anything about this magazine, so I quickly jump online and do a bit of research. Wikipedia tells me:
The Bulletin was an Australian weekly magazine that was published in Sydney from 1880 until January 2008. It was influential in Australian culture and politics from about 1890 until World War I, the period when it was identified with the “Bulletin school” of Australian literature.
It also tells me that:
The Bulletin soon became known as “the bushman’s bible,” with a circulation reaching 80,000 by 1900. Archibald’s masterstroke was to open The Bulletin’s pages to contributions from its readers in 1886, running pages of poetry, short stories and cartoons contributed by miners, shearers and timber-workers from all over Australia. Some of this material was of high quality, and over the years many of Australia’s leading literary lights had their start in The Bulletin ‘s pages.
Okay! So, I can add a bit of information about that.
Then I add a note about the original research I need to do. So I write LOOK UP COPIES OF THE BULLETIN IN THE ARCHIVE.
Layer your research. So far, what I’ve done is really derivative, anyone could do it in a few minutes (and I did). However, I now know exactly what I need to look up for original sources.
When I read the biography, I will go back and add more details, or amend details. When I read other articles, I will do the same.
Slowly, I will build up my own picture of what is going on here–but I will do so while already producing words towards my word count.
So: 1,281 down. 8,729 to go.