On 13 July 2011 I sent a book proposal to a university publisher. It was based on my doctoral thesis about French railwaymen (cheminots) in the Second World War, but I was going to add lots of cool new things. I was full of excitement and enthusiasm. ‘I will have the finished manuscript by July 2012.’ *insert raucous laughter*
I got the contract – hurrah – and unsurprisingly, July 2012 went by. So did my next deadline. And all the other ones. Almost three years later, in a Pret-a-Manger in Washington D.C., I rejoiced: I had finally finished my manuscript!
Oh no – wait.
I still had to re-write the Introduction. And then check up those few little references. And then get the copyrights for the photographs. And then have a baby. And then read the first proofs. And then read the final proofs. And then do an index. And then teach the baby how to sleep through the night. And then double-check the index.
When I sent off the *final* finished proofs it was April 2016. It was pretty underwhelming – probably because I had celebrated my book being finished at least four times in the past two years, never fully appreciating all the work that remained to be done. And so the *final* send off went totally unnoticed, uncelebrated, no cheap champagne in sight. I did not even share the news on social media. I was so over it.
But as the days passed I began to feel a little lighter. Flutters of excitement took me by surprise on the tube. Not because I had an upcoming book, but because I was thinking about.. my next project. How was I going to get stuck into my archives again? When was my next research trip? Should I go to Aix, to Paris or to Indiana? How would I time it with childcare? What about my annotated bibliography? Too. Much. Excitement.
And I suppose that this is what this blog is about: the thrill of starting my second big research project.