book writing, day three

It was a pj kind of day. That’s a day where you eat breakfast , but don’t actually get out of your nightgear until you’ve done a substantial slab of writing. So picture us sitting side by side, a bit dishevelled but talking and typing, talking and typing from 830 am to 12.

Barbara was right to be relaxed about the introduction. Even though we reduced our six key points from yesterday to four today, it was pretty straightforward writing. It only took us three or so hours to finish with our kicking off point. We consolidated the ‘tone’ we’d been working on yesterday – chatty and casual. And I got to have another crack at those people who maintain that all academic writing is dense, dull and dismal- it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s a key message we want doctoral researchers to understand, and our mission is of course to try to help them do just that. And we were both more than a bit pleased to have got through an explanation of our planned book contents in terms of aims and principles, without having to do a dreary trawl through each precise chapter/section.

Then we started to look at what to do next. Because we have only three more days together, we must make sure that we know what we are doing the next time we meet, in July. Because this book isn’t following the conventional chapter format, we have to sort out the alternative structure we have been imagining. We must now make this a reality. So we’ve decided to leave writing the next thing in the book, an outline of the key concepts we use, till later. We know what these concepts are as they are the foundation of our work, and they won’t be a problem to write. Instead, we need now to get clear about our new stuff, the things we do in this book that aren’t in the others. We have to get the substantive style of the sections set too.

This bit was hard. We started to talk. Then we showered, dressed and went to lunch. Today it was a chicken biryani served on banana leaves. Then a brief wait while KL got drenched in a tropical downpour. A pretty substantial meal meant that neither of us had the energy to do a great deal more actual writing when we got back to the apartment. However, we had to get ourselves ready to write. We had to ensure that tomorrow will be productive.

We went back to look at the detailed ideas that we’d had last year for five discrete sections, equating to five phases of doctoral work. Oh, oh really!! How did we get to that? Why were we thinking that? Surely that isn’t right. It was back to the drawing board to list the actual contents one by one, so that we could re-sort them. As it turned out the re-sort got us back to five sections, but these are a little different to the ones in the plan.

This is our third rethink actually in as many days. That’s OK, the more we go over the plan, the better the book will be.

The five sections we have seem to be workable now, but we really do need to have an extended go at one of them. We need to have a section done by Friday, and we will begin with the first one. We have informally entitled this “What the **** am I doing in/with this PhD? “ The title won’t stay like that of course, but this naming will keep us focused on the major issue we are addressing. All that reading, all that worrying about the question that is the start of doctoral research. That’s where we are starting tomorrow.

So, now it’s getting ready for writing time again. While each section will use some bits of posts from this blog, there will also be much more. So my task this evening is to cut and paste the bits of posts that we might use and put them in a folder. Barbara will tidy up our outlines from today and we might even do some more talking about the contents of section one.

Tomorrow we start on the book proper. Three days getting ready and now, finally, we begin the real work.

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About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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One Response to book writing, day three

  1. chrisbigum says:

    Love the blogging. More detail would be even better but then I began thinking about the materiality of it all. Not that there is a need for pics of you two in your pj’s but some indication of the mess, maybe the odd screen shot or are you using quills? :)

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