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?”

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  1. Anonymous

    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. sabrinamari

    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.

  3. Anonymous

    Myth Woodling

    You want to get in touch with Cedar Light Grove in Baltimore MD.
    Do you have an email or snail mail address at which I could send you info?

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