I'm sad to say my elation of yesterday has not really, entirely, survived the long hours of slogging away at the ol' chapter since the knitty surprises came out yesterday.
Can I just say...?
- 22 notebooks, entirely filled in with hand-copies of archival documents.
- c. 10 gigs of photographed archival material
--NB: these are all domestic papers, hand-written 170 years ago, and though full of useful information, said useful information is scattered all over the place, in small cryptic references, undated and unsigned letters, and the sort of laconic daily notations that don't mean anything unless you add them up and show patterns over time. Oh, and the writers are not famous writers or public figures - they're regular people, and so like most regular people they don't spell very well and their grammar is sometimes a bit wonky and their style is a little...perplexing.
And it's all in RUSSIAN, requiring the extremely precise translation of all that wonky writing and archaic vocabulary, yesirree, and NO, they don't teach us anything useful about translation in my grad history program, nope.
- Also, a many-to-many database of absurd complexity that, for lack of a team of research assistants, is more trouble than it's worth
- And a bibliography of several hundred books and a few hundred more articles, almost none of which are actually relevant, but most of which have to be dealt with in some way.
And I've never written anything remotely this long before.
The longest thing I've ever written before was about 60 pages. And I've only done that a few times, and it was a killer every time. This dissertation (depending on how you look at it) is either 12 chapters of about 35 pp each, or 4 chapters of about 100 pages each. Plus intro, conclusion, epilogue, and appendices. All of which are crammed with citations that absolutely must be scrupulously accurate.
The process of reading through the sources, choosing pieces I want to use, translating them, and plunking them into an appropriate piece of prose, by itself, takes untold hours for each little piece of a chapter.
I haven't really even begun to connect the various pieces that have been so slowly accruing over the past year.
I've said lots of big, sort of important-sounding things to my advisors about what it all adds up to, but in perfect honesty, I'm so hopelessly swamped in details that I really have no idea what any of it means, if anything.