I’ve been powering through my research into the life and career of musical theater performer J! A considerable amount of the research is too tedious to share here, which is why I created Alternative Muses. Occasionally I come across something too fun to keep to myself or limit to AM, though, and J’s kindergarten scrapbook is one of those exceptions.
I’ve had this scrapbook since the beginning, but due to its delicate nature was too scared to catalog it…until yesterday!
I shared a few of the pieces over on Alternative Muses, but didn’t want you to miss out on this whimsical little bit of childhood history.
Today is a milestone! This is a bigger deal than my first wedding anniversary because book research is trickier than marriage. I’m using today to appreciate all I’ve accomplished instead of focusing on all there is left to do.
I cannot believe that it has been a month since my last post! We have been extremely busy at the family business AND most of what little spare time (ha!) that I have goes to book research.
I promise to post more frequently in June (not that that would be hard!). In the meantime, here is the most recent post from Alternative Muses, wherein I briefly catch you up on an unexpected turn-of-events in Biographyville.
I achieved a major milestone a couple of days ago! What is it? Thanks for asking. I finished cataloging the contents of J’s main scrapbook. Hallelujah! I’ve already added the relevant information to her Master Timeline. This means that I can move on to the next phase of research. Not sure what that is going to be, just yet. There are many, many options.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEKS 23-24
VICTORY: Finally finishing the scrapbook project, obviously.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: I came across a marriage announcement (of sorts) for J and her husband R. Baby steps.
FRUSTRATION: I’m being spread very thin these days. Not enough time. The usual, right?
CURRENTLY READING: Lots of century-old newspaper clippings.
HOURS SPENT ON RESEARCH: Approximately 12, across two weeks.
Thanks to wonderful initial support on my Ko-fi, I purchased a six-month subscription to newspapers.com’s Publisher Extra. This gives me access to all the things. Although I won’t be diving headlong into the site for another couple of weeks (after I wind up the scrapbook project), I have been unable to completely resist its siren’s call. There is amazing content on there, y’all. See below.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEK 22
VICTORY: Receiving support on Ko-fi is surprising, humbling, and much needed. Every penny helps. Thank you, thank you.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: J starred as Kathie in a prominent touring production of The Student Prince. This roadshow company performed in major US cities during the operetta’s initial Broadway run. This was a BIG DEAL, ultimately ranking as one of her greatest professional achievements. Having access to Publisher Extra allowed me to start filling in some of the details of this exciting period in her life.
FRUSTRATION: Information is coming at me so fast that I might have to rethink my project timeline. Will three-ish years be enough time to complete my research? No idea, at this point.
CURRENTLY READING:Memphis Movie Theatres by Vincent Astor
Hi there! It’s been a hot second since the previous entry in this series. My silence wasn’t from lack of research; far from it, actually. It’s because, six weeks later, I am still cataloging J’s main scrapbook. The reason it is taking so long? Early in the process, I also decided to start working on her main timeline. It simply makes sense to do one alongside the other. Current me is quite pleased with past me. Great choice, me. However, I didn’t want to bore you with the same spiel week in, week out for months. Thus, the lack of [R]evolving Research content as of late. Going forward, I will do posts when I have enough new content. Let’s see how that goes.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEKS 16-21
VICTORY: Sticking with this project (and looking forward to working on it) even when I am super busy with life. Knowing that I hold a huge responsibility in my hands is very grounding.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: Every new entry on J’s Master Timeline gets me a teensy bit closer to seeing her life in a more cohesive way.
FRUSTRATION: Just the usual: not enough time or energy to do all of the things at once.
CURRENTLY READING: The contents of J’s main scrapbook.
HOURS SPENT ON RESEARCH: Haha, I’ve truly no idea.
You may have noticed that there’s a Ko-fi button hanging out on the sidebar. If you have questions: Here’s an article explaining what that is all about. It’s truly a no-pressure situation. I will not mention it going forward, except on posts about my biography research.
I’ve spent most of the past week+ methodically recording the contents of J’s main scrapbook. I’m only about 25 percent finished. This is going to take awhile. Fortunately, it’s easy for me to get a rhythm going if I do it while watching T20 cricket. Whatever works, right? This might sound tedious to you, but I’m a weirdo who finds this kind of thing to be ridiculous amounts of fun. Every day that I work on this mini-project, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be the caretaker of J’s legacy. Who knows how many impulsive decisions were made over the years to ensure that her scrapbooks and photos were not tossed in the trash? I’m well aware that this path was a fragile one. One false step could have resulted in an unknowable tragedy.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEK 15
VICTORY: I’m feeling gratitude this week. My victory is that this project fell in my lap.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: I am learning so, so much from the contents of J’s scrapbook. Too many amazing things to decide between.
FRUSTRATION: My writing hand hurts.
CURRENTLY READING: Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Sarah Stodola (for some personal inspiration)
Sorry for posting this two days late. I had internet problems on Tuesday and was too busy to fit this bit of writing into Wednesday’s schedule. Let’s get started!
And I thought that endlessly staring at online copies of census records was hard.
It turns out that poring over century-old newspaper clippings (I’m talking physical copies) is even worse on the eyes. Who knew, haha? I finally forced myself to start cataloging the contents of J’s small but mighty scrapbook. It’s tedious only from the standpoint that it is going to take weeks (I’m on page 8) to finish. Other than the necessarily slow nature of the process, it is really damn exciting. I’ve already learned a great deal more about J and her early career in Memphis. This has also, of course, opened up many, many, and I do mean many, new avenues to explore. Dozens. All by page 8. Researching a biography is hard, y’all. That’s mostly a good thing, so I won’t complain.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEK 14
VICTORY: Making it to page 8 of the scrapbook in about an hour. It’s not that impressive (the early pages aren’t very dense), but it’s a nice start.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: I’ve been able to add a few songs and engagements to J’s timeline.
FRUSTRATION: Being unable to work at this full-time.
CURRENTLY READING: I’m tying up loose ends with a couple of previously-mentioned books.
Happy New Year! 2021 will be the first full year of my research. (I only started this project about three months ago.) I’m excited to find out where things take me. I’ve already learned a significant amount of information about J, yet I know it’s a drop in the ocean of what I’ll need in order to write this biography.
RESEARCH NOTES: WEEK 13
VICTORY: Cleaning and organizing my studio. It’s much easier to get absorbed in work when my surroundings are neat.
HAPPY DISCOVERY: I wasn’t as behind on my organization of research sources as I thought.
FRUSTRATION: I’m working more hours at my day job(s). It’s great being able to pay bills, but I am constantly busy…and tired.
CURRENTLY READING: A Brief History of Memphis by G. Wayne Dowdy