May 20, 2012

Back to Basics

To keep myself from going into overload with ideas and research topics, I need to go back to the basics.  My main goal is to “Portray an 18th century bookbinder”.

Okay.  The 18th century was a long time.  I need to narrow that down a bit.  I’m interested in the history of the American Revolution, and most of the lists that I subscribe to are based on that period.  The Revolution occurred between the years of 1775 and 1783.  I’ve just narrowed my date range down from 100 years to eight, and my main goal has been revised a bit.Portray a bookbinder who lived between the years of 1775 and 1783.

To keep things simple, I’ll base other vital statistics on myself.  I’ll be 40 years-old this year, so my bookbinder will be 40.  I live in New England, so he’ll live in New England.  So far, so good, and even more refined.

Portray a 40 year-old bookbinder living in New England between the years of 1775 and 1783.

I feel myself getting closer to the point where I need to start researching and documenting, but I think I can refine my main goal just a bit more.  If I pick a specific year, I can narrow my scope a bit more.  An exciting time to be in the printing, and therefore binding, business would be after the Declaration of Independence was ratified and distributed.  That would put me in late 1776.  This would also have been the time of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The American Crisis.  This seems like a good time frame for me, as I feel these works were as important to the Revolution as the military was.

Locking down a specific year does a few things for me.  First, it further refines my main goal.  Second, it gives me a target for research.  Third, it starts to flesh out my persona.  If he was 40 in 1776, then his birth date was sometime in 1736, or possibly late 1735, depending on the month.

Portray a 40 year-old bookbinder living in New England in 1776.

I could narrow my focus a bit more by choosing a part of New England, but that will require some research and documentation.  If I want to continue basing the persona on my own life, he would live in Vermont.  Were there bookbinders in Vermont in 1776?  My guess is no, but it will take some research to find out.  Massachusetts is a more likely place, but there may be other areas to look into.  I’ll add this item as the first on my research and documentation list.

With my main goal refined fairly well, I can start fleshing out the persona.  Every life starts with a birth, so I’ll start there.

As I mentioned above, if he was 40 in 1776, he would have been born in 1735 or 1736.  For the sake of ease, I’ll use December as a birth month.  It’s easy to remember, because, well, that’s when I was born.  So, my persona’s birth date will be December, 1735.  I could also pick a day, but I think I’ll see if I can find out anything about December of 1735 first.  It might be neat to have his birthday coincide with a large snowstorm or something of that sort, just to add some flavor.

So, there we have it.  My first bit of work into entering the re-enacting/living history/experimental archaeology hobby has been done.  I will portray a bookbinder, born in December of 1735, as he lived in New England during the last months of 1776.

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