book blogging – a day to remember

No matter how good the plan you started with, chances are that at some point in the book writing you’ll change some of it. Sometimes this is because, as you write, you realise that things need to be in a slightly different order or they need to be grouped differently. Another reason for plan-changing might be that you remembered something that you ought to have put in in the first place.

That’s what happened to us. We finished off the chapter we’d been working on by mid morning. We didn’t think that was what we were going to do yesterday, we thought it would take the whole day to complete. But that wasn’t the case.

It’s not that we wrote extra fast. No. It was more the case that we had finished without realising it. After we’d completed what we had planned as the penultimate chapter section, we realised that it really was enough. It wasn’t penultimate at all. It was The End.

In reality we’d written a chapter’s worth already – about seven and a half thousand words. This meant that what we had originally planned as the last section of the chapter was really far too big to end on. In fact, it was so big it was about another half a chapter’s worth of words. We actually had a chapter and a half in our plan.

It was back to reshuffling content again. We had to make a whole new chapter. What to put in it without destroying the integrity of the other final chapters? Did we have to come up with something new at this late stage? AARGH.

And then, we remembered. How could we have forgotten? We know that we have to address this question. It obviously goes in this brand new chapter… where was it in the plan? Nowhere. We heaved a big sigh of relief because we knew it would all be OK. We had something else to say. We knew what we were doing again.

So what was it we’d forgotten? Well, I’m almost too ashamed to say. But you won’t tell will you …  It was the perennial question about writing the researcher into the thesis. We needed to provide answers to the questions that we get asked all the time. Should I use “I”? What’s the difference between an ordinary first person plural and a scholarly “I”? How can I talk about myself in the thesis without sounding really egocentric? Do I have to write anything about myself and if so why and how? How much do I have to write about myself?

We can’t really believe that we forgot this, but we did. However, our trusty collective subconscious saved us from the ignominy of a doctoral writing book that doesn’t deal with one of the most common dilemmas faced by many doctoral researchers. But we remembered.

Today, we love our book writing process – and that part of the brain that keeps on checking that we’ve included everything we need to. And it does this magic remembering even if we don’t explicitly tell it to. As Poirot would put it, “It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within–not without.” Or in our case, rather than the truth, one must seek the blindingly obvious within … 

We sought, and we found, Hercule. We found. Bless our little grey cells.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in book writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to book blogging – a day to remember

  1. Haitham Al-Sheeshany says:

    Thanks for sharing this/these with us Pat. The (how much of “my” voice should I integrate + where exactly) IS a constant struggle!

    I liked ==> “..trusty collective subconscious”
    Bless those grey ones indeed!


  2. delia says:

    Dear Pat, thank you for these blog posts. They are providing great insights into collaborative work on publication. I know that you and Barbara spend a lot of time on discussing what should go in each chapter, but I am slightly unclear how you do the actual writing together. I would love to hear whether you write each chapters in the book together (if so, how) or whether you write individually different chapters (if so, how do you check the consistency of the language and terms used). . Thank you in advance.


  3. Pat, I love the sentiment of seeking truths (or the as-yet-unrealised-blindingly-obvious) within.
    As someone 80,000 words into my PhD thesis, I find that the subconcious percolates in the in-between spaces: between writing, between working, intermezzo. Then those ‘truths within’ or undiscovered thoughts bubble up and reveal themselves.
    I look forward to that chapter on the ‘I’ in doctoral research … or maybe a blog post teaser before publication? 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s