I’m reflecting on the past week’s writing, and in particular reflecting on blogging about book-writing. I wasn’t sure that writing about what we were doing was going to be of interest to anyone, and I’ve been surprised by the response. Lots of people have emailed and tweeted to say that they enjoyed reading our daily progress.
I suspect that some interest might relate to the initial inclination I had about posting about our work – you just don’t read academics writing about their actual process of authoring very much. So perhaps it was a glimpse into something normally private, like inadvertently staring through someone’s front window as you go past on the bus. I’m sure that everyone writes books in their own way, and finding out how others go about constructing a big text could be a useful lens onto a practice other than your own – even if only to say I won’t do that!!
I’m quite confident – or perhaps I mean paranoid here – that other people probably do less throat clearing and rethinking than we do. It’s not that we suddenly decide that our initial proposal was wrong or, even worse, that we just threw something together to get a contract. We really believed in our initial structure and contents at the time. It’s just that as time goes on, and as our thinking moves on a bit, one way to get back into the writing after time away is to go back to the proposal. And then we talk and then, well before we know it, we’ve started to refine, rework and redo before you can say “hey deadline”.
Getting a secure argument, outline and angle is really important to the way we do things. We don’t write a book – or chapter, or anything really – without a very strong sense of the overall direction. I know that some fiction writers say that they write to find out where things are going, but we don’t. This is not to say that we don’t have ideas along the way, and we do make additions we hadn’t thought about to start with. But we are advocates of planning in academic writing, and we practice this too.
I have a hunch that our publisher might have found it a trifle unsettling to see something other than the finished text, to have a tiny look at what we actually do. So many false starts and reconsiderings… the incredibly messy process of producing a book is probably not conducive to publisher confidence! However, the good news is that since yesterday, he has taken our proposed new title, checked it out with both the UK and the US and – it’s all systems go on the new. While we still have a bit of refining to do on what comes after the colon, the runner, we are basically now settled on the title, and the very particular twist we will bring to doctoral writing. Thankyou Philip. We will now proceed without any more chopping and changing, I promise.