Re: Build Your Own Best-Seller [was work (markets)]

Michael Cahill (MCBlueline@AOL.COM)
Tue, 8 Oct 1996 18:47:05 -0400

In a message dated 96-10-08 14:12:03 EDT, Kagillogly writes:

<< Understanding what decisions families make today can only be understood in
the context of international policy on down (especially history). The
villagers don't know what happened, they just know they have to deal with it.
But they wanted to know how they'd gotten to where they were, and I hope
others do, too.>>


This is so true. And it's the hook that really pulled me into your post.
"How we've gotten to where we are" -- that's what I'd like to know, too, and
I'm looking in the same directions you and your villagers are. This captures
the driving force that keeps me going.

<< I need to develop something more evocative, something that will stay in
the mind while I go back into history to explain how the villagers got to
where they are now.>>

Thanks for this image. For my money, you're feeling the tug of the creative
process. The emotional momentum of the field experience sustaining the more
technical and potentially tiring parts of the analysis and write-up.

<< I don't think plot and characterization are the best answers. Well, not
for a dissertation, at least. I'm thinking of something more like a memoir.
And how do we deal with plot and characterization given our real obligations
to 'our informants' and to trying to be accurate?>>

I think John and I, and others involved in this thread, are using words like
"plot" and "characterization" in unusual ways. We don't really mean
composing or inventing things. We mean trying to find ways to bring our
descriptions more to life, and thereby to make them more accurate not less.
Your point about the role of what some would call experimental writing in a
dissertation is, however, very well taken.

<<I'm thinking of an account of villagers and their life as I knew it; then a
chapter with 'snapshots' of life in three other villages (1968, 1970, and
1984). This will lead me into discussion of differences in social
organization, and to explain those I will then leap to discussion of the
national and international policies and practices surrounding the village.
But I must say I find these transitions difficult to contemplate.>>

Welcome to the club! But I think you're on the right road. In fact, I find
the arrangement of your snapshots intriguing -- an idea that I might borrow.
Here's a thought. Have you considered using the lives of individuals who
have lived through all three "eras" to stitch together the snapshots?
Strands of social continuity within societal discontinuity?

The spirit and flow of this post, not to mention the questions raised, are
precisely what I was looking for.

More later.

Mike Cahill