Friday, October 17, 2014

Writers on Writing: Winston Churchill

I want to reply to Historiann's challenge, but first a post about writing.

From The Guardian, a window into Winston Churchill's methods of writing, with comments:
Downstairs there is a room with green lamps hanging from the ceiling, and maps on the wall, and a telephone exchange: and here Churchill kept his researchers – about six of them at once, junior Oxford dons, research fellows, some of them destined for high academic honours. There they were, filleting, devilling, rootling around in books and documents in search of stuff that might be of use.
Comment: Would you want this?  It's the Doris Kearns Goodwin way of writing (teams of researchers finding material that you fashion into text) and it works well for her and others.  But would you have as good a sense of the primary texts if you had outsourced, so to speak, the initial reading of them? 

I'd like to try a research assistant, since I'm sure it would help. If nothing else, I could set a research assistant to changing all the @#$%^& in-text citations to endnotes in Chicago 16 style.  (I have experimented with Endnote's Chicago 16 setting & don't see any way to do this automatically.)

After dictating to a squadron of scribes all night, Churchill would have text. Oh, boy, would he have text--more, Boris Johnson, the author, tells us than Dickens and Shakespeare combined:
The sheaves of typewritten paper he would then correct and amend by hand – and we have innumerable examples of his cursive blue-inked marginalia – and the results would be typeset as they would appear on the page; and even that was not the end.
He would fiddle with the text. He would switch clauses around for emphasis, he would swap one epithet for another and, in general, he would take the utmost delight in the process of polishing his efforts; and then he would send the whole lot off to be typeset again.
Why did he write? Partly for money, but also for this:
His creative-depressive personality meant that writing (or painting, or bricklaying) was a way of keeping the “black dog” of depression at bay. He wrote for that sensation of release that comes with laying 200 bricks and writing 2,000 words a day.


nicoleandmaggie said...

Is the problem that you are using EndNote's Chicago 16 style and the style itself isn't doing what you want? You can edit the style and save it as a new one that does what you want. Or did I misunderstand your problem?

undine said...

nicoleandmaggie--Thanks. The style itself (in the bibliography) works just fine. I've edited styles before, but I thought I could somehow switch from MLA to Chicago 16 without creating a bunch of new endnotes. Also, inserting the references still leads to a parenthetical reference rather than Author, short title, pages, which is what the Endnote template says it does. It's not that big a problem; it'll just take time.

undine said...

nicoleandmaggie--I figured it out! You have to
1. Create the footnote in Word.
2. Insert the reference, making sure that the default style in the Toolbar under Tools -> Configure Bibliography is Chicago 16 Footnotes.
3. Click on Update Citations and Bibliography in the Toolbar.
The answer was here: If you hadn't asked, though, I'd have given up, so thank you!

undine said...

The Endnote search feature wouldn't/didn't turn up anything--it doesn't even think Chicago is one of its styles-- but Our Friend Google found the answer.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Would I hire a research assistant? Yes, god, yes. It would mainly be for combing through a database to find relevant articles and books, though. Then, the person could compile all that for me, and I wouldn't have to spend hours and hours doing it myself. I'd still read it all myself, probably, but if someone would do the initial searching for me, that would be a real time saver.