I did good work today. I wrote a bunch. I verified some things. I found some really important stuff. Okay? So why do I feel so profoundly depressed?
I spent more time than it is probably worth trying to trace down a Congregationalist clergyman who lived in Pittsburgh in the 1860s. It’s not that I didn’t find interesting things, but I wasn’t able to prove what I suspect. That happens.
I’ve been watching two volumes of bound tracts that were listed on ebay. I knew from the start that I couldn’t afford them, but the final auction amounts took my breath away. One volume contained a special printing of an 1877 tract. What’s special about it is that it was published as a supplement to Prophetic Times. This volume sold for $12,100.00.
The other volume has bound in an important tract by Michael Baxter. Alone that might be worth fifty dollars or so. However, it also had bound in one of two known copies of the paper back edition of Three Worlds, the Three Words Tract and another tract for which heretofore there have been no known copies.
This went for … come on! Guess how much …. Just guess … … Are you guessing? Okay … $24,995.99. Yup, that’s right.
We emailed the seller trying to get a photocopy of the one tract. He’s very hard to deal with, but we’re still trying.
In the mean time I feel like warmed over, ten day old, fruit salad or something. That’s kinda an “ewww” moment, isn’t it.
I’m in such pain that I can hardly think straight. That’s depressing in its own right. I applied for a full-time teaching position. The competition is so stiff that I’m almost certain it won’t go to me. … And I wanted it badly. I’ll hear sometime within the next two weeks. If by some miracle I get that job, my income will fall rather dramatically for the first six months or so. Then the first raise will kick in.
The plus side is I won’t be working nights anymore. But … I mentally wrote it all off today as unlikely to happen. Did I mention that I hurt? Oh, yes I did. I can hardly walk and my left hand hurts so badly that I’m giving up writing for the day. Besides, I need to bathe and dress for work. How thrilling, huh?
Okay, so I lied. I'm back and adding to this. (All washed and smellin' pretty too ...)
One of the the things that is dragging me down is a strong feeling that we're missing something vital. The chapter I'm working on profiles one of the principal characters from about 1866 to 1870. I'm rewriting and adding to something my writing partner wrote some time back. This involves a lot of fact checking, some additional research and some selective editing. The base document is far more detailed than we need; so there's a bunch of quotations that duplicate or overlap others. That's fine.
It reads well. One of those who read a bit of it said that too. Oh, there are some faults, and we'll fix those. Someone posted a nice comment to our history blog over some of it. ... But I have serious reservations about this chapter. “Serious reservations” is an understatement. This chapter is inadequate, and I don't know why.
On the good side, we present more detail than I believe anyone else has. But it seems wrong. My writing partner scoured over 40 years worth of articles and books written by the principal character for relevant material. He sent me an additional article today. So we tell much of this story in his own words. But it just seems off, as if it were disconnected from reality. It does not have "the ring of truth." I don't mean that he lied. As I read the quotations (each one of which I have looked up in the original and reread), they all seem to be an honest presentation of the event. So ... I'm back to saying that I don't know what we're missing.
This will probably not seem so bad on another day ... when I feel better than I do tonight.
Now, something else that peeves me is this: My writing partner wrote to his church's archive asking for a photocopy of a document. He wrote March 10th. It is now August. They have totally ignored his letter. This is rude. This is an unkindness to someone who has upheld that religion since 1952 and who has done one thankless job for them after another for decades. I'm angry. If they want to say 'No,' then just say no. But at least answer the letter.
He's written a follow up supposing his original letter is merely lost. He's more charitable than I am. I think they're bastards. What makes me even angrier is that they're out actively looking for things we have which we would freely share with them. My WP sent them a copy of a booklet that we positively know they did not have. It was a kind of good faith gesture, I suppose. No answer from them, no way no how. But ... they're off writing to others seeking what they know we'd give them. They just don't want to return the favor. How do I know? Hey, if you write to someone I know, have met, write to, buy books from ... it will get back to me.
The entire affair is insulting. It's worse, I think, because it's not directed toward me, but toward a faithful old man who would do anything for them. There is no excuse for their behavior.
It feels good to get this off my chest. I've been brooding over this for two weeks. If they don't respond to his follow up letter, I fully intend to rake them over the coals in the preface. (We're writing two. It's a compromise.) Oh, I'll do it politely. But I will do it.