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Qualitative Discomfort; Trip Prep

The work on the second chapter of Emmett’s story — known as the First Plot Point section — continues. This is a dense chapter, folks, mostly because we get to know Emmett through the significant others in his life, and, we get a glimpse at what it is that pushes Emmett along his chosen path in life.

There’s a lot of texture to manage in this chapter. Emmett Wilson is the focal point, of course, but he became who he was through his relationships with these specific others in his orbit. Capturing those personalities accurately, carefully, compassionately, is challenging.

Mostly, the challenge comes from the fact that writing this biography is different, than my ‘everyday’ writing (mostly academic, focused on educational studies backed up with quantitative data). Numbers and data are comfortable to me. One doesn’t have to deal with ‘messy’ things like personalities, character defects, unscientific variables, and the like when working strictly with quantitative information every day, if you see what I mean.

Writing Emmett’s story has been a real exercise in reinventing my approach to research, a good thing. But the type-A quantitative researcher in me wants to see more results. Yesterday. LOL.


I’m getting ready for the second trip to Pensacola this Sunday. It should go well; this time, I’m hoping to fill in the blanks on a few of my still-open research questions, and trying not to go down there with a lot of expectations.

By that, I mean to keep a open mind about what I find. With Emmett’s research, I’ve learned to plan (as in, have a list of things to see/visit/view), but not to plan the outcome, or what I will find. Otherwise, I may miss what it is I’m supposed to see in the process.

My big hope is to find some — any — of Emmett’s courtroom oratory; specifically, five speeches he gave in closing statements to juries. I’ll find out whether or not these exist in the Escambia Courthouse archive on Monday. I’ll let you know what I find next week.

Archives on Blount Street. Source: Google

Archives on Blount Street. Source: Google


Categories: Book Research Status The Writing Life

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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