Maygust 2013 writing group, week 3

Sorry this is a little late.  It’s a holiday weekend in the U.S., so I’ve been out and about.

Whether you start on Monday or honor the U.S. Memorial Day by starting your work week on Tuesday, how are you going to advance your goals this week?

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
amstr
polish dissertation for September defense
ComradePhysioProffe
write review article
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
emmawriting
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
Humming42
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
jliedl
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
luolin88
submit Article H
K(ris)
combine two conference papers into one article
Matilda
revise article draft for publication
Metheist
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
nicoleandmaggie
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
nwgirl
write Conference Paper B
OdilonRodilon
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
professorsusan
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
RentedLife
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Sisyphus
Revise and resubmit Floyd
SophyLou
revise paper for submission as article
tracynicholrose
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Whoosh
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
Widgeon
finish article for Big Name Journal
Z
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
Zabeeltwo
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

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Ouch

Tenured Radical lists some Hackneyed Academic Phrases (scroll down to get to them).

I’m guilty of at least half of these.

But hey, now I can outsource the work of my Inner Editor to Tenured Radical!  My Inner Editor has 56 eyes, a nasty proboscis, and wings that buzz very annoyingly, so I much prefer to imagine Claire Potter in my head snarking at my prose.

Maygust 2013 writing group, week 2

What is your goal for Week 2?

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
amstr
polish dissertation for September defense
ComradePhysioProffe
write review article
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
emmawriting
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
Humming42
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
jliedl
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
luolin88
submit Article H
K(ris)
combine two conference papers into one article
Matilda
revise article draft for publication
Metheist
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
nicoleandmaggie
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
nwgirl
write Conference Paper B
OdilonRodilon
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
professorsusan
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
RentedLife
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Sisyphus
Revise and resubmit Floyd
SophyLou
revise paper for submission as article
tracynicholrose
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Whoosh
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
Widgeon
finish article for Big Name Journal
xdanne
single project
Z
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
Zabeeltwo
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

Confronting impatience

Translation work goes apace, no problems there.  The rough draft is always quick and fairly predictable; it’s the fine-tuning that varies, with long chunks taking little time and then a single line or single word that requires hours of delving into dictionaries and etymologies.

Getting back to the MMP-1, however, requires patience.  Yesterday I added two sentences that came to me while driving back from Kalamazoo, and one of them suggested taking the conclusion in a slightly different direction from what I thought I meant to do (if we’re ending up at the boardwalk, I thought I was heading for the roller coaster and this sentence suggests the carousel).  So while thinking about that, I read back through what I have, and started looking through reading notes that I took while working on the companion-piece, and also thought about “curating data” and writing up summaries of significant secondary works (concepts that came up in the comments for the writing group yesterday).  And the conclusion is that, while it’s true that this piece is close to completion, it’s not quite a matter of Just Doing It.  I have been Just Doing the pieces I can Just Do, and now that the term is over it’s time to Enter the Scholarly Conversation as well as fine-tuning some of the manuscript discussion.

In other words, but to continue using capitalized buzzwords, it’s time for something other than Brief Daily Sessions.  I know some of the main scholarly works I need to engage with, but there’s a whole slightly overlapping field that I need to wander through.  And that’s apart from staring at the manuscript photos some more.  These are things that take time.  Not endless time.  Probably just a few weeks, so long as I read in a focused way.  I must remember those three days in Famous British Library last summer.  Sometimes immersion is what a writer needs.

(And I will also say that it’s real improvement to know who my larger audience is, now.  No longer am I talking only to Ralph and Tony, helpful though that idea was to me at a much earlier stage of this project.)

The point to the title of this post is that it’s my own impatience I’m dealing with.  No one is breathing down my neck demanding that I hurry up.  I have no externally imposed deadline from an editor.  I don’t need something out the door before tenure.  No one in my department or elsewhere wants to know why I’m not done yet.  Ralph and Tony don’t actually know what I’m preparing for them.  I can take my time.  And I am not procrastinating.  I am sitting down every day and spending time working.  Why, then, do I have the sense of wingéd chariots buzzing the back of my neck?

Possibly I have internalized the voices of the people Z calls Boiceans, though I still say Z’s version have completely perverted Boice’s message, and sound more like the unhappy writers with whom Boice worked than like Boice himself.  I quote, again, from his long and expensive How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: “Rule #1: Wait.  This does not mean passive waiting, for Muses or deadlines or binges.  It does mean putting off prose as long as possible while noticing, collecting, conversing, and readying oneself for the actual writing.  It means putting off submission for publication while rewriting and proof editing. . . . Rule #1 is easier said than done.  In travel, and in the program, impatience keeps emerging as a problem.  Thus impatience demands its own, specific reminder: Rule #3: Impatience blocks writers by associating writing with rushed, incomplete work. . . . We do better when we live for the moment and accept the reality that good work and good travel often take time and patience” (236-7).

I don’t actually remember anyone urging me to Just Do It or rush or be sloppy.  I think my impatience is my own, and that one of my jobs right now is to notice it, sit with it, recognize that it is interfering with my desire and ability to do good work.  It’s part of the Monkey Mind (a more elaborate and productive set of metaphors than I realized, but I’ll have to read that article later).  I need to remind myself that reading and thinking about what other people have said is not just a way to avoid finishing something (sorry, can’t find Groening’s “Life in Hell” cartoon about dissertations to illustrate this) but an important part of being a scholar.

Does impatience do anything for me?  Does it serve me, or a part of me?  It may, in fact, be a form of procrastination and avoidance.  Giving in to it leads to me staring at what I have already written and feeling frustrated.  Reining in the impatience leads to reading, thinking, taking notes, and ultimately to more writing.

Conclusion: I think the impatience is a form of egotism.  Part of me does not want to engage with other writers, and find what they have said, and how well they have said it.  I want to be clever all by myself.

But listen, impatient-self, I really don’t have time, or any reason, to do for myself all the work done already by Kevin Sharpe, Heidi Brayman Hackel, and other scholars.  It is much more efficient to read their studies than to re-create their research.  So we are going to let go of ego, for now, and go read.

Gentle readers, if you had the patience to read through this meditation, I hope it was helpful to you.  If you try sitting patiently with your impatience, see what happens.

Maygust 2013 Writing Group

De maygustibus non disputandem est!

I realize some of you are not on the North American semester system, indeed not in the Northern Hemisphere; and some of you are on quarters and will be teaching for awhile yet; and others will be traveling.  Keep your own rhythms in mind as you set goals.  If you’re just “touching” your project until June, don’t worry about people who have finished their grading and are ratcheting up word counts.  If you feel like you need to get a lot done at the beginning of the summer to allow time for plans later (like, say, being glued to the TV for hours a day during the Tour de France [not looking in a mirror here or anything]), then ignore everyone in real or virtual life who says “Relax, have some vacation,” because you know that will come later.

This iteration will run 15 weeks, with the last Monday-morning planning session being 19 August.  That will be my last week before classes start, and I count my “real” summer as ending that week.

Here’s the list of participants and their projects:
Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
amstr
polish dissertation for September defense
ComradePhysioProffe
write review article
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
emmawriting
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
Humming42
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
jliedl
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
luolin88
submit Article H
K(ris)
combine two conference papers into one article
Matilda
revise article draft for publication
Metheist
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
nicoleandmaggie
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
nwgirl
write Conference Paper B
OdilonRodilon
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
professorsusan
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
RentedLife
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Sisyphus
Revise and resubmit Floyd
SophyLou
revise paper for submission as article
tracynicholrose
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Whoosh
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
Widgeon
finish article for Big Name Journal
xdanne
single project
Z
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
Zabeeltwo
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

So: it’s Monday morning, the week stretches ahead, and we have interesting, absorbing work to do.  What part of your project are you going to address this week?  Are you setting goals in terms of time, product, or both?  Are you doing conceptual work, writing pages, gathering material, or what?  Allow me to suggest that you set a realistic goal that you can be sure to meet by next Monday, so that you can feel successful and then build on that success.

Advance planning

The cognitively-restructured May-August 2013 writing group will start up here on Monday, 13 May (I’ll probably set the post to publish on Sunday, actually, for those Southern Hemisphere folks who are a day ahead).  Below, you’ll find a list of people who have demonstrated interest so far.  Some of you have even been so good as to indicate the project you’ll be working on, at least in general terms (conference paper, review article, dissertation revisions, etc).  I’d appreciate it if all of you listed would post a similar brief description of your project, even if you’ve already done so; it would be helpful to get all the information in the same spot.  You can also withhold details and give your project a pseudonym such as “Floyd” or “Project A.”

Any or all of you may well work on other projects over this period; certainly I will have multiple things in the works.  The point for this group is to pick one that you are committing to finishing by mid-August.  It might be the highest-priority project or the one that needs to get done even though it isn’t actually highest-priority.  Up to you!  Just pick something.

JaneB will run the Top Left Quadrant Group for those who want “support with making time and space for a variety of activities that matter, but aren’t yelling for attention”: those things that are important but may not be urgent.  If you’re at a point where you really want to think about how to juggle your multiple projects, or you need to think more about process, her group may be a better fit for you.  You can of course contribute to both groups.

I’m making the post-day Monday to encourage looking forward and planning ahead.  If we all worked together in an office, we’d get together on Monday morning (coffee or tea in hand, no doubt) and take turns telling each other “Here’s what I’ll do this week.”  And then we’d go to our desks and get our secretaries to bring us the Floyd Files.  I can’t provide even one secretary (samples of secretary hand, yes, if you’d like one), but I hope you’ll think of this as your Monday-morning-coffee-planning group.

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
amstr
ComradePhysioProffe
Dr. Virago
emmawriting
Humming42
hypatia cade
jliedl
John Spence
luolin88
Matilda
Metheist
nwgirl
professorsusan
Pym Fan
RentedLife
Sisyphus (tentative; but since I borrowed Floyd, I’m listing you!)
tracynicholrose
What Now?
Whoosh
xdanne