There is a truism in warfare that battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy. The same might be said of writing this book. I have been laying out my first tranche of findings, mostly background material, but I’m getting that feeling of sticking square pegs in round holes. I can almost see the plan changing with each new inclusion. But a changed plan isn’t a lost plan, and new ideas for how this book might flow keep springing up. I still know roughly where this is going and this week has shown that even the most mundane writing tasks can be exciting.
I’m learning that there is no one way to write. The process for creating this new book, for example, is very different from the one I deployed for An Evil Day in Georgia. With Evil Day, I worked out from a single source, incorporating new material into an established narrative. This new project has accounts of a death and then… nothing! Or at least nothing tangible; a probable birth date, a probable marriage etc and that is it. Research has been, therefore, very hit and miss, but how do you know what is hitting when you have no target? To find my subject, I have been mining archives to build the world in which he lived and to establish a likely biographical trajectory. That has led to some fascinating discoveries but nothing to hang my book on, not yet anyway. Beginning this week, I am writing down everything I have to see what might fit. Hopefully, I will be able to stitch it all together, but there is still a lot to do.