16 September 2011


I've just reported on progress and commented about pacing to Another Damned Notorious Writing Group, but as usual, thinking about writing in one venue makes me want to pick up the theme elsewhere, as well.

The Shakespearean Heroine's middle-of-the-night drama meant that I had a couple of days this week when I didn't manage to write. First I was completely exhausted from being up most of the night, and just gave up on everything except meeting my classes that day. The next day I was still rather tired, and focused on exercise and catching up on non-writing activities, though I did round up a replacement letter-writer, so that at least moved the project forward.

I really like the goal of moving forward in baby steps every day: if all you can do is write one sentence and edit another, hey, that's a new sentence and an improved sentence, and you're keeping in touch with the project and what it needs, and it's infinitely better than nothing, and maybe tomorrow will be better.

Reflecting on turning a chapter description into a conference abstract: this was weird. The description was based on my Main Points and Thesis work. It had an argument. But the argument fit into the shape of the whole book* as it is currently planned. It did not stand alone. I re-wrote it. I didn't like it. I let it sit, and thought about what is special and useful about this chapter if you haven't read the rest of the book. The solution came to me while I was thinking and doing other things at the same time, which may be a first: I have never been one of those people who can work out problems while running or whatever. I need paper or a screen. But maybe the trick is to have a tidy problem to work on, which I feel I often don't. Anyway, once I knew where to start, the abstract was easy-peasy, and I liked that draft right away.

For the next couple of weeks I am not going to be able to work on the chapter that is my goal for the fall edition of ADNWG (Another Damned Notorious Writing Group, and that's the last time I'm writing that out in full). The book project is the base for a fellowship application, and I have to work on that and on a sample chapter, which chapter is going to have to be the most complete to date, in other words, the first one I wrote, back in July. I knew it would need revisions, and made notes to myself about what it would require (turn this section around so you lead with the discovered mini-thesis! and so on). But I blithely ignored a major textual controversy. Oops. I knew about it; but I was away from my books, writing from notes, and I didn't think it would prove to be so important as I now realize it is. It will make the chapter more interesting, but also more of a challenge to revise quickly. Probably I will continue to do a certain amount of finessing the topic, as in asserting that for this draft I'm just using MS Z and later I will explain the reasons for preferring Z to X and what the various claims of Z and X are.

Grading will commence. Class prep will continue. Committee reading will get heavier. I will keep feeding cats and exercising myself, and somehow the writing will get written.

*the whole book: how cool is it that about six weeks ago I was queasily wondering if this article might be a book, and now I'm casually saying things like "the shape of the whole book as it is currently planned"?