Remember that conducting and writing up qualitative research is an evolutionary and inductive process. It's not a predictable or finite event; rather, it needs time and space to grow and change. (Katie)
Although I was never alone in my graduate research classes, I found I was always alone as I was collecting and analyzing data for my thesis. I did not have the companionship of an a priori hypothesis or a statistical design to guide and structure me. None of my courses had required the intense interaction between doing and thinking on such sustained and multiple levels. With the general focus of my dissertation taped on the wall in front of my desk, I continuously had to attend to the tangents of analysis, letting them play themselves out in order to understand which paths, if any, were worth pursuing, or whether the emerging foci or indeed the general one with which I began needed adjusting. I was alone with notes all over the place—organized chaos—and yet never alone, as there were always thoughts sprouting in a brain partially numbed to anything but them. I had no idea what “doing all of this” meant, and, at times, I wondered whether I could do it at all. It was like struggling with a team of wild horses pulling a runaway wagon.
Because the efforts to understand and manage my thesis research are as memorable as the substance of the thesis itself, I am convinced that neither course work and texts about how to understand and do qualitative research nor the beginnings of my own efforts to learn by doing would be the appropriate starting point for a book about the experiencing of such things. Those of us who have completed at least one major research project using qualita-