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Barbara Clough

EMA and Research

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Edited by Barbara Clough, Thursday, 21 Oct 2021, 01:14

.Today, well, technically yesterday, I officially started the research for my EMA. I know I have a YEAR before it's due, but I am a muller. I like to think about it, contemplate it, examine the angles, see if it will work. It may not. It may. I don't know. I've never written a family history before. Never plotted out a piece of Creative Nonfiction of 15,000 words, approximately 60 pages, all of which needs to make sense and create a path that the reader can follow - more importantly - that the reader will WANT to follow. 

So I write to my third cousins to thank them for their hospitality in Tullamore. I write to the Tullamore Parish to find records. I write to the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society for different records. And now I wait to hear back, and contemplate my next moves. This is how I start mapping it out. I start with the obvious stuff, and then I start to dig. 

I like the research and when I was in grad school the first time, I found that in the process of doing the research the writing part came together fairly seamlessly. I'm getting the feel for that back again, that flow of information into my brain, some miraculous subconscious activity occurs, and then the story (or academic paper) flows out and I understand how all the pieces slot together. 

Well, I'm hoping that's how it still works. Fingers crossed.

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Adrian Topping

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I was never in the Scouts but I love their motto 'Be Prepared.'

You are certainly following that maxim but may I tell you a little story.

It was my privilege to take one of the grandchildren to his swimming lesson. Being very independent at the ripe old age of 7 he went and got changed under his own volition.

Ready for the class despite much persuasion he refused to get in the pool going off to get changed.

In the car driving home in answer to the question why would you not go swimming the answer

I didn't want to let myself down. I have laboured a lifetime under that cloud always attempting to be well prepared.

Congratulations for making such preparations to ensure the completion of 60 pages of script. I find the concept of scripting such a piece of prose frightening in the extreme. Please, I know you will be well prepared, let me read the final product. Success with your efforts. Adrian

Barbara Clough


Hi Adrian - thanks for the good words. I don't worry about letting myself down. It's not a pressure of "Oh my god I need to get this done" it's more I let ideas rattle around in my head like the little silver ball in a pinball machine. If I let ideas rattle around enough, they almost always end up settling into the right spot. I've always been this way. I tell people at work my goal is to think more, work less. Usually if I've thought a plan, project, story through the writing isn't easy, but it's straightforward.