I have to keep up with all the numbers and news stories that pervade The VFUU Price of Oil. Since I started to write I have passed through three phases and am emerging bewildered and wide-eyed from the fourth.
Phase one – blissful ignorance
I haven’t thought of publishing, am keeping no records and am filling my book with a huge collection of data and information (those were the days).
Phase two – dawning realisation and the end of naïvety
Hmm, if I am to publish I need to show my sources. Each time I use a webpage I create a favourite, and dump all hard copies in a filing cabinet.
This phase ends with ‘how do I put all this in a book’ and a horrified expression.
Phase three – time to improve
There is only one solution I work out how to export favourites in a format I can use and somehow tie those sources to facts chapter-by-chapter. I peruse a few thousand pieces of paper and webpages.
Next I print the book and mark up every fact. I put them into the spreadsheet and find I have some of them covered, but many are still unattributed.
Each time I add a new fact or find something interesting I add a line to the spreadsheet; I also, gradually, fill in the gaps.
Phase four – update, update, update
Expletive – the chapters have changed and there is so much to update. Every month that passes sees a new technology or a statistical update. Politics and finance get in the way of grand schemes and amazing successes appear, as if, from nowhere.
184 countries pledge to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions including Niue, a poor Pacific island nation with 1,000 people. They will produce eighty per cent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020
I split my screen and put Word to one side and Excel to the other. Painstakingly I work through the sources putting them in the order they appear in each chapter, adding incomplete lines for new facts and moving stuff I no longer use to a bibliography.
I tackle all those tables, charts and little calculations that make some of the tough stuff easier to follow. Now they sit resplendent in one spreadsheet (with an index and a list of cross references).
I go to the dark side and check every current fact (thankfully, historical and geological facts don’t need an update) update charts, change text and keep the spreadsheets under control…