I seem to spend a significant portion of my so-called “writing” time noodling about doing research. I already shared the funsies of Inuit grammar a month or so ago. Which started with a single “throwaway” reference.
This afternoon’s task is also about names. I have a family with the last name of Avalon. After annoyingly clever comments for several generations, they decided to just roll with it, and now all born Avalons have names out of the Matter of Britain. There are a lot of Avalons, and so I have finally had to break down and spelunk the crevasses of various places on the Interwebs to find a bunch. This guy’s list is the winner so far.
Anyway, because there are a lot of them; and because they feature in a scandalous complication, which matters at least in my own wee fuzzy head, I’ve been trying for FIVE YEARS to find something that would handle family trees. Failed–unless I wanted to pay for something that apparently would sketch it all about in a twee little graphic.
And even in the packages I demo’ed, it’s kind of complicated, when you figure out on page two-zillion-six that somebody is really related to such and who, to go in there and change it. Apparently there’s no perfect answer to this question, and the people who do it for realsies use good ol’ pen and paper–or, I should say, pencil. They then make lots of copies of sections and back up their work–er, photocopy it–undoubtedly while using a few choice words.
I’m not that patient; I’m not that organized. The manuscript itself is in something like seven or eight notebooks at this point, all with notes scrawled randomly in them, and when the dust settles, I’m going to go in and mine it all for stuff that I was stupid about; or that answers some random-ass question after said research, etc.
So, between me being me, and the task being what it is, anybody who knows me is now LTAO at the very thought of me with sticky notes, scissors, and several different folders of different colors. Moan.
Then, just now, while messing with another sheet in the growing table of various data (necessary when putting together an entire society), I had the epiphany that you can do it with a worksheet.
It’s not easy. At all. As of the moment, I have some hope that Pages will do a better job than Excel. Sigh. But that said, after a mere hour of tinkering, I have the nasty little buggers all worked out.
The very best part of having done this is that, now that it’s all drawn out graphically–it’s actually not confusing at all. Much.
More as this exciting task progresses.