Part One: The Shakespearean Glass Slipper (nearly all written)
Part Two: All Roads Lead to Sackville (nearly all written)
Part Three: Vignettes From Sackville's Life (all written, just needs to be threaded together)
Part Four: Questions and Speculations (80% written?)
I must have written and rewritten the Introduction more than a dozen times -- even though it's only a short part of the book, getting the tone right is one of the reasons why it's taken me so long to finish this book. There is so much widespread animosity towards the authorship question. People tend to automatically assume that authorship skeptics are snobs, fantastists, and conspiracy theorists who have no understanding of what true literary scholarship looks like, and the question itself is perceived as taboo. Nearly to a man and woman, traditional Shakespeare scholars tend to refuse to read anything whatsoever on the topic, so they generally know little about the debate, trusting in their fellows to have done their homework and vetted the evidence. Even for those traditional scholars willing to dip into the authorship literature, they'll find far more chaff than wheat. Then there is a widespread sense even among many authorship skeptics (especially Oxfordians) that everything important to be written on the topic has already been written, or that the only important new research will support their favored candidate. Finally there's the problem of dozens of alternative candidates, which traditional scholars love to point to as evidence that no alternative candidate is credible (otherwise why would there be so many?). My favorite reply is Diana Price's observation that they're missing the skeptical forest for the trees of candidates.
Finally I decided to write almost as if the acrimonious 150-year-old debate hadn't yet happened, and begin from my belief that the Shakespeare authorship question is a legitimate historical mystery (even though I am of course heavily indebted to previous authorship research). After all this time I don't think there is any way to convince people the question is worth their time that a thousand other skeptics haven't already tried. Instead, I'm going back to the Looney model of conducting a gedanken experiment which doesn't need justification or scholarly approval: if all the plays had been published anonymously, which contemporary person is most likely to have written them based on internal clues from the plays? However, my inferences and evidence are quite different from Looney's, and my guiding rule is to make each inference consistent with traditional Shakespeare scholarship. This has helped break my writer's block, and I'm so happy to be making good progress again.