Monday, 3 December 2012

The Key Text

Let's start with a brief thought about history, and it's the notion of finding the key text on a subject. For most time periods and topics, there is one. It's the one that's going to give you enough of an overview to get you through whatever you're researching/writing, while also pointing you in the direction of everything else you need to know. How do you spot it?

  1. It should probably be reasonably recent. Historical thinking, like everything else, moves on. I might still read George Duby's work as that of a very influential historian, but I would not look to him for an up to date view of the middle ages.
  2. It should be broad reaching, covering the whole of your subject/interest, rather than a specialised look at one tiny sub-set of it.
  3. It should have plenty of references to other things. You're looking for the hub of a wheel, or a starting point on a map, but you still need somewhere else to go.
  4. It should ideally represent a dominant view of the subject. This can be hard to judge, except through other books, but in general, you don't want the one book on the subject that takes a view that other historians have torn apart.
  5. It should be readable, because otherwise, how will it keep your interest long enough for you to learn?
After those thoughts, some others relating to life in general. I'm nearing the end of a couple of ghostwriting projects, and somehow it seems that I always arrange my life so that I have great swathes of writing, followed by tranches of editing. Never a nice balance of the two. Maybe it's because they're such different mindsets.

On the guitar front, mine is still not quite perfect. I have contacted the one guitar tech in Hull I have not spoken to so far, but if he can't help, I'm honestly going to either sell it as a whole (which is probably not the most efficient way to go about it) or sell off individual parts and replace them to get closer to what I'm looking for. Listening to some MSG earlier, I got the sense of the one tone that I'm really missing, which is that big, thick rock one.

I'm still working away at the new project, and have achieved the most difficult part, which is to get the hero into as much trouble as possible at the start. The main thing is just to have fun with it.

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