Working hard or hardly working?

I’ve spent almost this entire weekend working on the biography. And yet I did little or no actual research. It was all about soliciting interviews and organizing resources.

Jimahl de Fiosa has just published a new biography of Alex Sanders: Coin For the Ferryman. Thanks to a connection via Deborah Lipp, I’ve been able to correspond with him about his research process. He spent 8 months conducting interviews and 2 months writing the book. Contrast this with my anticipated 4 years of research on Isaac’s biography, with an unknown amount of time to write it.

I’m debating putting Jimahl’s book on my altar after I’ve finished reading it. Maybe if I pray to his work I can get mine done more swiftly.

Seriously, from corresponding with Jimahl I know what the critical differences were. He established a strict scope for his book, place limits on his resources (e.g., if you didn’t respond by his deadline, you didn’t get interviewed), and always kept his goal in mind.

I have a very open-ended project; I’m researching everything and everyone, because I don’t know what I’ll want to include. I’m accommodating the wishes of everyone I interview. I continue to pursue interviews even with a lack of response on the other end. I’m determined to code all of Isaac’s papers and files, even when it’s unclear that anything significant will come of it.

I knew what I was getting into when I started this project. It’s more-or-less progressing as I thought it would. But even though I know it’s a mistake to make comparisons like this, I look at books like Jimahl’s, or Philip Heselton’s Witchfather on the life of Gerald Gardner, or Elizabeth Guerra’s Writer on a Broomstick on the life of Stewart Farrar, and I ask myself “What am I doing wrong?”

3 thoughts on “Working hard or hardly working?

  1. You answered your own question. You’re not setting scope limits and limits on how long you’ll pursue interview subjects. I think Isaac probably met every single person in the Pagan community, so clearly those limits are your friends.

    I’m not sure it’s “wrong” so much as more difficult.

    Perhaps a compromise position would be to set a deadline by which you will finalize a scope and start creating those limits.



  2. Deborah made some good points. Perhaps you could revisit the project and ask yourself,” What do I REALLY need to say about Isaac’s life?”

    No one book can encompass a human life. You, as the storyteller, decide what *you* need to say. the more clearly yu know this, the easier it will be to set sane limits on your work.

    Help yourself finish and still have a fun, playful life, my friend. There’s a beautiful world out here.

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