Where to begin. Since July, my days have been full of reading, writing, and working. Sounds boring, right? Actually, if I did not have the research paper to keep my days occupied, I would go mad for lack of stimulation. I think that I’ve finally gotten it with this fifth draft. This was a true test of a researcher and a writers creativity. What made it more difficult than any other paper was the fact that there is no precursor. I realized that I was writing something that had never been written before, although that idea sounds more romantic than it really is.
For this paper, there are a few books and articles, but none of them explicitly focus on Charleston. I had to go through several drafts of the same paper to get to where I am now. My first draft was a report, flat out.
What I did wrong: I’d detailed the research process that I followed, right down to the search terms I had used. I included some of the books that I found on the subject, but there was no accompanying analysis. I included some evidence, but there was nothing really concrete to tie it all together.
What I did right: I isolated four themes: destination, Institution of Slavery, the French Connection, and Individual Identity. These four themes represent the wide range of evidence that I collected. In defining them they had became unique to Charleston’s history. The tendency of these four themes to overlap and become more entwined than four definitive themes caused organization problems though.
With the second and third drafts, I wrote more of an historiographical analysis. In these drafts, I analysed the available scholarship and presented the themes in relation to Charleston.
What I did wrong: My writing was out of touch. I don’t know if I was succumbing to the summer heat of Charleston or what, but I was not writing like an academic.
What I did right: I analysed the other sources. This helped me to further define the four themes that I had developed.
In what became the present final draft, I truly had it figured out. I don’t know if an impending deadline was the perfect catalyst for productivity, but I really didn’t get a good hold of my writing until October hit. The paper finally came together, a collaboration of all the papers before it, but without all the faults and errors. I could not have developed such a paper without failing at it so many time before. I attribute the final product to truly hashing it out on paper several times.
I finally finished the research paper and submitted it to a grad school as a writing sample. More on that later.
So I am eagerly awaiting the letter…