As I posted on twitter, I have hit upon a paradox in my work.

The more I read, the more I want to write.   The more I write, the more I need to read. 

This one’s a difficult one.  Here’s where I am.

Yesterday I read through my musicological ballad analysis chapter and started to read Beth Quitslund’s ‘The Reformation in Rhyme’.  I found references to several other books I should look at  about the metrical psalters.  This is par for the course.  This happens every time I read anything.  Each book I look at generates about another 4 or 5 that I feel the need to look at too.  I’m used to this, but it gets a little bit frustrating.

This morning I sat down to write some notes to remind myself what I need to do in the next few weeks.  I  looked through the notes from my last panel meeting, and from the supervisory meetings I had just before I was taken ill.  More things to read.  Chapters in books, unpublished theses, articles, entire monographs…  More and more things to read.  Then I looked round at my bookshelves, groaning under the weight of unread books from the library.

Most of what I ‘need’ to do is reading,  but I need to write something for my next meeting.  I have 23 thousand words of a working document on the analysis of the ballad tunes and their lyrics (it will be substantially less when I move the ballad lyrics to the appendices), but it’s not finished.  I need to do more work on dating the ballads and analysing their lyrics.  Then I need to relate it to the general trends in Renaissance music of the period, and so we come back to secondary reading.  Everything I do leads to more reading.  But I want to write! What’s more, I need to write.  So I suppose at some point I have to draw the line under reading, at least for a while, to do the writing that that reading has generated and carry on with the primary research.

I had a very supportive ‘back to work’ meeting on Wednesday. We talked about my plans to ease myself back into work gently with some reading!  Also, I have an article about Jacobean corruption and Saint John Roberts almost ready for submission to a journal.  I just have to get an exact reference for the document on which it is based, sort out exactly how to present the website references and check it through once more.  As soon as I get the document archive reference, I will be sending it straight off and not holding my breath.  There are also a couple of conferences I want to prepare something for.  One is the histfest at Lancaster University, which is just up the road from me.  So I’ve got plenty to keep me going.  It was lovely being back at work, and great to know I’ve got my panel supporting me.

Advertisements
The Staircase Hall (1884–7), designed by Sir J...

The Staircase Hall (1884–7), designed by Sir John Taylor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this (a day late – yes, I know), I have just passed through Stafford on the Pendolino, on my way back from London, where I attended the Historical Association’s Branches and Members Committee Meeting.  It’s going dark outside the windows, and in the last quarter of an hour I’ve been watching lights go on all over the dusky countryside. At the meeting I seem to have volunteered to help re-organise the branches and branch officers’ area of the H.A. website, and to be a mentor for H.A. branch officers in the north of England.  I do sometimes think that what with looking after the children and doing my PhD, I’m not giving the H.A. the attention it requires.  Oh well, time for a bit of planning to get everything in, I guess!  The meeting finished early, and I spent an hour in the National Gallery before heading back to Euston to catch my train home to Preston, which was jolly nice.  I like travelling by train, I must admit, and the fact that I can now get to London in just over two hours makes it do-able, in my experience.  I’m not a happy driver, and I’d much rather let the train do the work.

It’s been a somewhat frustrating week, work-wise.  It was the children’s half term, and for once their father was not on holiday the same week, so I’ve not got a lot done.  My parents looked after the children on Tuesday so that I could go into Manchester to take back to the library a book that had been recalled, but what little time I had not looking after my children this week was mainly spent trying to get my new laptop to work (it runs on Windows 8, but what I think of that operating system is best left unsaid – suffice it to say that a lot of swearing took place under my breath) and trying to set up a new wifi router that could cope with the number of machines that now need it in my house.  All very time consuming and irritating.  Which is why I didn’t get my blog written last night – yesterday evening was the first chance I’d had all week to do some research!

I’ve created a huge working document analysing the ballad tunes musicologically.  The next step, which I am desperate to get on with, is looking at the links between the ballads, their backgrounds and their publication history.  I’m itching to get on with it, much as I enjoyed taking my children to the park, the ice-cream cafe and the cheese factory this week!  However, there will be quite a lot to get in my way over the next couple of weeks as, even though the children are back at school, I have a lot of appointments to keep.  I’m looking forward to getting started again, though.