10,000 words of research for 100 words of prose…

I have spent the last week or so reading everything I could lay my hands on about the French army’s stay in Poland prior to their invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812.  Which sounds like a mad thing to do.  Even by my standards.   

And in the end, all the research, all the searching for pictures of the Sudeten, all the study of the geological charts, all the reading of diaries and memoirs and reminiscences, will probably be condensed into no more than two pages of the entire work. 

But like so much about this war of wars–Napoleon’s determined effort to take over the whole of Europe and his relative success at so doing–the actual damage, the actual destruction is so much greater, infinitely greater than anything we wish to contemplate.  And so, for all those lives lost, for the generations lost, in Poland and elsewhere, because of Napoleon’s megalomania, I press on. 

And yes, perfectionism may be a contributing factor in this desire to know, to understand, so that I can write of it with authority and honesty.  But all the same, if I get it right, and my readers then have even a glimpse of comprehension–it’s all worth it.

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3 comments on “10,000 words of research for 100 words of prose…

  1. junebugger says:

    I’m stunned. I admire that motivation in you, or whatever else it is, that drives you to research so much for a 100 words prose. I hope to read this piece of yours one day!

  2. M M Bennetts says:

    To be honest, all my work is based on that kind of research. May 1812 has a bibiliography of over one hundred books, in addition to magazines and newspapers of 1812. And even after a thing is written, if further research reveals an error, I go back and change it or everything to get it ‘right.’

    This current bout of study is for a few pages in a chapter of Of Honest Fame, though, so I trust, one day, you shall be able to read it. Cheers–MM

  3. junebugger says:

    I’m sure I’ll read it one day in print! There’s no doubt about that. The question is, how long must I wait….

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