My ever-dutiful adviser dutifully sent me comments on my last chapter within three days of me sending it off — as always, I’m impressed (or is it intimidated?) by my adviser’s productivity and dedication. And, as I suspected, this last chapter wasn’t all that interesting in terms of analysis. Good story, fine narrative, but no analytical oomph. My adviser identified a few flecks of gold at which I could chip away and see if there’s anything more there, so that’s good. But the short of it is that there’s much more brain work to be done to go along with my storytelling work.
The question presents itself: do I take it slower on this next chapter, integrating analysis as I go along? Or do I proceed as before, moving through the narrative with the plan of adding my analytical interventions in a later draft? I’m leaning towards the latter, because it seems to me that — at least in my writing — arguments develop through and after the narrative. In telling the story, I make arguments (explicit and implicit) about the story. In choosing my characters, events, timelines, etc., I am, however subconsciously, making choices about why things happened as they did, and that is essentially what historical analysis is all about: explaining why.
Here’s my take-away: accept that your first draft will be good on story and crap on analysis. If I can live with that, then I think I can craft a better story, and, in doing so, set myself up for better analysis.
Also, a new feature on the blog: Bonus Unrelated Photos of My Dog.