As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was a little ambivalent about this trip to the archives; I had too much to do, and so on--all work that I was supposed to be doing and never actually completing. What I hadn't counted on is the magical powers of concentration that research libraries somehow beam in to the heads of those in their research rooms.
Think about it. You leave a very hot, humid space outdoors, where you're trying to figure out all the basic daily life in a new space (How do I get back to where I live? When does the bus come? How do I get my key/print documents/get some tea/do laundry?) and are consequently feeling frazzled.
Then you go into a cool, quiet research room where you know what you're supposed to be doing. Even though there's wireless internet in the room, you barely notice it except to look up something related to the archival materials you're reading. You don't fidget, and you don't think about the other writing you're supposed to be doing. You work your way through the folders, reading, taking pictures with your newly silent camera, transcribing, and otherwise doing the work you know you're there to do.
You're in Author space. Everything you do for 7-8 hours in that room relates to Author. You start making connections just because of the sheer volume of Author time you're putting in. Even when you walk somewhere for lunch and the heat hits you as you leave the building, your brain is still working on Author questions.
Best of all, you feel capable of making judgments now that you couldn't when you first started to look at the papers. You recognize not only Author's handwriting but that of various associates, so you can tell who is writing what. You get to know the issues that the letter writers are talking about, even if they're using some shorthand way of alluding to them.
Even outside the reading room, you don't want to let the world intrude except for some escapist reading or a little Netflix. You ignore the news and various crises in education; you stop looking at Facebook and Twitter. All of it seems too noisy and stressful if you're in Research World.
I'd like to bottle Essence of Research World and take it back home with me.