Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RSL: The Book

I've decided to start reworking the ideas that I've been presenting on this blog in fits and starts as a coherent book. I don't want to write a "manual", mainly on aesthetic grounds, so I'm think of framing it as a collection of essays, some of which, I suppose, might be published independently. My working title is:

Research as a Second Language: Essays on Academic Writing

(I haven't decided on whether to foreground the postmodern condition by adding "...and the Crisis of Representation" to that. I have a feeling it will do more to repell readers than attract them.)

Here's my working outline:


Part I: Science as Hustle and Bustle

1. The Scholar Disappears
2. The Archives of Babel
3. A Supplementary Clerk

Part II: Writing Process Reengineering

4. Finitude
5. Space
6. Time

Part III: Research as a Second Language

7. Existential Errands*
8. Getting Your Facts Straight
9. Getting Your Act Together


The idea is to produce nine 5000-word essays, mainly drawn from the stuff I've already published here, sometimes elaborating on ideas I've only gestured at, always grounding my assertions in my experience as a writing consultant. This will be framed by a 3000-word introduction and a 2000-word conclusion. 50,000 words in all.

In the days and weeks to come, I'll think out loud about the different parts of this outline, working out the ideas to be presented in each essay. Since each essay will be 5000 words long, I'm going to need about 25 ideas for each of them (to be presented in neat 200-word paragraphs). And about 250 ideas altogether. I've written 527 posts since I started this blog, so I'm hopeful.

*I've stolen this title from Norman Mailer's essay collection of the same name. But it is also a reference to Mailer. Each essay in this section will use a quote from him as its epigraph.

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