Hope you all enjoyed the Christmas break and are looking forward to a productive year of writing in 2014 🙂
Its is my plan (yes really!) to get a first draft of my Biography completed by the end of 2014. Ambitious it maybe, but without a goal the openendedness would allow me to procrastinate even more than I do anyway. So there you have it – a public declaration of my goal and you can all ask me if I have achieved it next Christmas!
The first weekend of 2014 I am away for a “Riting retreat”. Yes, you read that correctly – a group of fellow writers and I are sequestering ourselves in the Norfolk countryside in order to concentrate on writing without the usual distractions of friends family and work (we do love them really)
My goal for this weekend is to plot out my subject’s travels – they were conducted extensively over 57 years so I really need a map and table of dates and places and events.
I have done my first research visit to a library in London to look for some information to verify data I already had. I have never handled a book published in 1868 before! It was an amazing experience – here was real history in my hands (well supported on a special pillow to protect it’s spine) This is the era about which I am writing and to have a contemporaneous publication is just incredible. The book was much larger than current publications, but no illustrations. I have three more libraries and two museums to visit for additional information. I will also be visiting the National Archives at Kew (London) and consulting the Navy Lists.
It does take time and cost money. I rang the library in advance and they booked me a research space and were very helpful when I arrived – they even had the Library Director helping to locate one item! It took a day in time and the cost of train ticket to visit London, but it’s so much more satisfying than just doing internet searches.
I am not denigrating Internet searching – that is how I started, but some things are not available digitally, hence the library visits. I also met some interesting people, one of whom has given me a lead to the person I would like to ask to write the forward to my book – an unexpected bonus of a personal visit.
Well, I thought having all my subject’s published papers would make life easier – it does, but there is still a lot of research to be done to place him in time and verify data – I think he was a bit of a boaster so need to check out all his claims. Apart from the usual library visits (Cambridge and London) there will need to be at least one visit to a small island and a longer visit overseas – will need to get funding for that one – does anyone have any ideas?
I am going to tell you a story about writing a biography.
Herein you will find the trials and tribulations, successes and failures, of a novice biographer and hopefully you will learn from my experiences how to do it better!
My aim is to report weekly on my progress (or otherwise) on my biography of an adventurer, who will as yet, remain unnamed.
I first came upon my adventurer at a public lecture and subsequently discovered no-one had ever written his biography…so I have set myself the task of rectifying this deficiency – with all the skills of a currently unpublished writer.