This article was written for the ‘Without the Internet’ series. I’ve been without the Internet for almost a month now and, as a result, I’ve been spending most of my free time pruning my Mac mini inside and out – coming across interesting snippets from the last few years.
I haven’t mentioned my ‘Main Document’ in a while. That might be because I haven’t actually been keeping up with it; it’s been one of those projects that, while having a explicit end, I’ve just never had a chance to complete.
I’ll first explain what the ‘Main Document’ is and the reason behind it being at all. Towards the end of my 2009–10 course at Cambridge Regional College into art and graphic design, I wrote a detailed account of what was called the “final major project”. While I didn’t enjoy the project itself, I did very much enjoy documenting it in detail and I thought I’d carry the practice on into my next course in radio. I was also, on the art-design course, having problems with certain tutors grading my coursework factionally; I thought that I might appreciate having a precise and comprehensive text full of the coursework that wouldn’t get submitted (the ‘working out’) later on, so I could hand it into the qualifications body for reassessment.
So between September 2010 and April 2011—which was the first of three ‘courses’, each one lasting about thirty college months—this ‘Main Document’ document became the centrepiece of my coursework and a place to collate notes, scripts, pieces of copy, despatches and so forth. The document was always written in arrears but, owing to the fact that a great deal of assignments had to be written in late March and early April, I fell a little behind on writing up old notes (the most recent day’s work was always written up soon after) and transcribing old programmes (which takes ages).
In the three-week holiday between the first and second ‘courses’ of the course, I was interning at Radio Netherlands Worldwide in Hilversum, the Netherlands. My plan was that each evening after interning, I’d return to my bed-and-breakfast and write up a page or two more of the document. To cut a long story short, this wasn’t the case; perhaps the distractions of living in a new country were simply far more interesting than writing up old college work. I managed to get myself another month-long internship at RNW before finding full-time employment at Mister B. Again, the distractions of my new home were just too damn interesting (they still are).
It’s nine months to the day since I arrived in the Netherlands and the ‘Main Document’ has come forward little since that Spring day of ferry boredom and suicidal cycling across provincial Holland and Utrecht: at times, I was so damn tired, I almost fell into one of a number of rivers and canals. But being without the Internet this past month means there have been fewer distractions and interruptions, and so back to writing I’ve gone. My parents brought over two cardboard boxes worth of notes and documents a few months ago and, one by one, I’m slowly sifting through the mountain of paper; typing each one up and putting it in an appropriate place in the now nearly 700 kB LaTeX file of 52,660 words. This blog post, by comparison, is hovering at a meagre 4 kB.