Just released: ‘A Gentleman’s Daughter’

 

“. .  the Destiny of my life was cast on seeing for the first time an ‘Apollo’ in the handsome Captain Cowin of the 73rd Regiment. Even at this long period I blush to make this romantic confession, nevertheless the age of 12 may offer an excuse. ”

Lady Dowling: Daguerreotype photo print of carte de visite, around 1860.

I was reading the memoir of Lady Dowling*, a very distant forebear of my husband. I was already intrigued, but this was the passage that captured me. Three years later, I have finished putting together a short biography of this flighty, restless woman (for details, see under Publications on this site). What I’ve learned in the process includes:

  • Never believe a memoirist (they leave out all the interesting parts),
  • Never trust a man who keeps a journal (they put in all the interesting parts), and
  • Never think your research won’t be contradicted by your next search of Trove.

I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in grappling with a million writing dilemmas. With this knowledge, I’m continuing to explore the border zones of creativity in the portrayal of historical people and events.

___________

*Dowling, H. “Memoir of the Early Life of Harriott Mary Dowling Nee Blaxland: Or Sketches of India and Australia in Old Times.” In Dowling family papers 1767-1905: Manuscripts, Oral History & Pictures, State Library of New South Wales, Catalogue  DLMSQ 305, Item 5, 1875.

List of Illustrations?

My Quandary

How to make a list of illustrations that is separate from the contents page, but which keeps updating page numbers when other changes are made in the document?

Illustrated catalogue of the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company (1886) – Public domain

It turns out that, for my auto-updating list of illustrations with page numbers, what I needed was to learn how to ‘Create a table of figures’.

The key steps to follow were:

  • Preparation
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Insert Caption under each of illustration in document
  • Creating the list in the document
    • Go to the spot in the document where you want the list
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Insert Table of Figures
  • Updating the list
    • Go to the list
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Update Table (whenever needed later).

Of course, within each of these steps there are other options to try out to finesse the formatting but, in essentials, once the captions are done, the rest was rapid and (best of all) accurate.

(*I’m using Word 2016, Windows 10, on a PC)

Adventures in Word Processing

Back in the day…

I learned to type on a clackety old manual typewriter in an after-school class at Seaforth Tech. At the time, my parents told me that, all else failing, I ‘could always get a job as a typist’. It was impossible to foresee that, within the next two decades, we’d all be multi-skilled and tapping away at keyboards that were connected to word processing technology with more memory than we could possibly fill.

Not much had changed by the 70s. (Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 2855, public domain)

However, the trouble with learning to light fires by rubbing sticks together is that you can wilfully ignore the many automated features of new developments such as butane lighters, declaring that ‘it’s quicker if I just do it the way I usually do’.  Recently, I hit this internal wall with a thud during my preparations of a manuscript for self-publication (more about that elsewhere!).

Yes, it needed a list of footnotes and a bibliography.

Yes, it needed a list of illustrations with page numbers that automatically updated when other changes were made in the manuscript.

Yes, it needed an index that similarly updated itself. I was fortunate enough to have my references and bibliography already formatted using 21st century technology (software Endnote), through having to use it in my work.

It was the list of illustrations and the index that I had persevered ‘doing it my way’: i.e., the very, very, very SLOW way. One week later, I am a born-again aficionado of the capacity of Word to create these. Dr Google threw up a lot of fellow-searchers, many of whom were asking questions about things a little to the side my exact needs, so I ended up at the Microsoft Office Support pages more often than not.*

Of course, many people are across this stuff and are technologically expert but, just in case you find you have similar blind-spot, I’ve done some other posts to that provide a potted summary.

(*I’m using Word 2016, Windows 10, on a PC, so my apologies to MAC users for any PC-centricism)