It's been such a sustenance to have today (a very grey and blechy day, weatherwise) be threaded through by the conversation going on in the comments to yesterday's post, so thank you, those of you who have been writing.
My excellent novelist friend's question about why I'm doing what I'm doing hit the mark. I have been thinking about my big project, once again, as the thing that I'm supposed to do--whether for prestige or professional advancement or approval. But, plain and simple, those aren't the real reasons to do it, the sustaining reasons that will keep me at it. The real reasons to do it have to do with my belief that what I know and what I have to say are going to help people think in more interesting ways about the period in which I specialize.
To that end, I trundled happily over to the library this afternoon to double-check the passage that formed my dissertation's opening anecdote: because I don't have my own copies of my double-decker biographies with me, I have to resort to using the library's rare books room copies. And, lo and behold, it turns out that Isabel Burton's life of her husband was even weirder than I (or any of you who have lived through this project with me) ever knew. Suffice it to say that I'd never seen the original 1893 covers. And now I have, and the Cambridge UL is working on producing photocopies for me, though I know damned well that I'm going to be paying them £48 to do 600 dpi photographs of the front and back covers before the month is out.
And when I came home, I had a sense of how to start--and, lo and behold, it turns out that it's the same starting place I chose four years ago. It's just going to take me in different directions now.
I've also taken the very bold step of declaring that Friday and Saturday will be full-on days off this week. Friday, I will decamp for Wells-next-the-Sea; Friday night, I will stay in a bed and breakfast (booking a room constituted my declaration to self); Friday and Saturday, as long as it's light out, I will be rambling about on a beach. It's been a long time since I've cordoned myself off from my work and just disappeared for a few days. But I'm planning to make it a habit.
(Tonight I'm listening to Regina Spektor; her song "Us" gives me my title.)