Around 5 pm today when I still hadn't made much headway on a new research proposal topic between classes and teaching I decided that I wasn't going to leave school until I came up with a topic. I didn't have to start writing it, but I had to pick something. I left at 10:30 pm.
I think I might have something now. I hope I do. A few missing pieces came together tonight. Just this week I realized that a lot of literature from West Africa that I hadn't closely considered is highly relevant to my topic. Still, there are lots of things I want the literature or internet to tell me that just can't be answered yet by anything in print. I wrote a few emails to people who have worked in this system asking them some specific questions (I think this is what I would cite as "personal correspondence" in a paper). Mostly I'm asking basic natural history questions that you'd think someone somewhere would've answered. Perhaps they're all answered in that dissertation I'm trying to get from Scotland on interlibrary loan.
I've got to get a draft of this new idea done before I go away for the weekend. Tomorrow might be another late night.