Maygust 2013 writing group, week 8

June is now behind us, and we’re looking at July.  The Tour de France just started, so the metaphor of the week is bike racing.  What kind of stage does your project need, at this point?  A flat stage, relatively fast and easy (unless there’s a headwind or side wind), with a sprint at the end?  A mountain stage, lots of painful climbing and thrilling descents?  A time trial, pitting yourself against the clock?

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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Maygust 2013 writing group, week 7

We’re just about half-way through already.  Don’t panic.  You can still make at least as much progress as you’ve already made, probably more, because now you’re in training.  It might even be time for a rest day.  Remember that dusty road, from last week, and the little town with wine and beds with clean sheets?  Let’s hang out there for a bit.  If we climb the bell tower, we can look back at where we’ve come from, and see something of the road ahead.  Where did you start, what have you done, where will you go from here?

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

IOW, reach must exceed grasp

In a review of a biography of economist Albert O. Hirschman, the New Yorker includes this quotation:

“Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened.  In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming.  Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”

The reviewer continues, “People don’t seek out challenges, he went on.  They are ‘apt to take on and plunge into new tasks because of the erroneously presumed absence of a challenge—because the task looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be.’  This was the Hiding Hand principle . . . . The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky.  Then, trapped . . . people discover the truth—and because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job.”

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Gift of Doubt,” The New Yorker, June 24, 2013, pp. 74-5.

This explains the Octopus phenomenon rather well.  I don’t think projects are going to be such a big deal until I’m well into them.  And then they’re much harder and less manageable than I expected them to be.  But I love the notion that this hassle will force me into being more creative and brilliant than I would otherwise have been!  It’s an empowering way to approach a task that has turned daunting.

His wife (Sarah Chapiro Hirschman) has a good quotation, too.  “It is impossible to know what is best and . . . the present is so much more important—because if the present is solid and good it will be a surer basis for a good future than any plans that you can make” (p. 76).

So, since nicoleandmaggie take Thursdays off, here’s your economics-related post for the day!

Out of sight, out of mind; in sight . . .

A belated reply to Undine’s question about work habits:

I am one of those people who need to see things spread out, or at least in piles, in order to make sense of them.  If I put something in a filing cabinet, I might as well just throw it out and save the effort of finding a folder and labeling it.  As much as possible, I punch holes in papers and put them in binders, because then they’re a codex, and I am able to see/locate/believe in books, where files are invisible.  But for a project in process, I like having piles.

The problem is, of course, that piles of research materials are often layered over with piles of papers to grade, or stacks of bills to pay, or materials for some other project, either research or teaching-related, or maybe something crafty like beads to string, or the mending heap.  I dream of having a whole attic just for me and my work, with a 30-foot-long refectory table where I can spread out ALL THE THINGS, and move from station to station when I want to translate, or grade, or work on some piece of the MMP.  (The attic has skylights that never leak, and many many bookshelves, and so I suppose the house must have steel beams to support all the weight on the top floor.  But I digress.)  That’s the dream.  My real house is not all that large, and while I do have a study to myself, it also has to play the role of dressing room, cat playroom, and sewing room.  Hence the layering.

Last week I removed the mending heap, and even mended some of it.  Yesterday I removed a lot of stray papers-to-sort-and-file to the guest room (NB, must file them before Queen Joan graces me with her royal presence, and preferably before Basement Cat starts perforating them) so that I could get at the photocopies and printouts related to the MMP that have stacked up.  I also found a set to do with another project, and a couple of items that made me wonder “What the hell was I thinking?”  Then I sorted and labeled all the photocopies with different-colored sticky notes for Literature, Manuscripts, Reading Practices, Book History, Biography, and Theory.  I also labeled the piles of printouts: MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, and listed what was in them (notes, tables of data, early drafts, feedback from RL writing group, usw).

The labeling meant that I have at least handled (touch work!) some of the pieces I need to cite in one or another part of the MMP, and I re-read one and skimmed a few others.  They have been buried long enough that I had forgotten about them.  Some of them, maybe even most or all of them, are no doubt listed in the bibliography for the MMP; I am sure I have typed notes on some of them in that file; and yet seeing the list and the notes on a screen is not the same thing, for me, as having a physical pile of documents, out in the open, where I am aware of their real present thing-ness.

Writing this, and thinking about my need for the concrete and physical, makes me think I should print out those notes, and maybe the images I’ve acquired from the National Archives, as well.  Even if the images don’t print clearly, just the fact of having them visible in hard copy might make some difference to me.

Having gone through the sorting and labeling, I then sat down and re-wrote (by hand, on paper) the introduction to the MMP-1, which the RL writing group was pretty critical of, last week.  It wasn’t the (placeholder) intro that I wanted help with—I wanted to know which pieces of enormous footnotes could/should be integrated into the main text, or cut altogether—but the intro was what I got feedback on, and of course in the process of saying, “No, no, it’s not about that,” I realized a bit better what it IS about and so what the intro DOES need to say.

I keep having to remind myself of the way the Companion-Piece, last summer, looked like a complete mess until very suddenly it wasn’t a mess any more.  One day it jumped a quantum level or two.  So my job must be to keep hammering away, juggling notes and printouts and revisions, and having faith that at some point the mess will resolve into a tidy article.

Faith, and piles.

Maygust 2013 writing group, week 6

Still with us?  Have you got into a groove?  Why do we think of “getting into the groove” as good, but “getting into a rut” as bad?  Is it just that listening to music (you know, grooves on a record . . .  phonograph needle dropping into the groove . . .  I keep telling you I’m old!) is supposed to be good, while toiling down a dirt road that’s dried into ruts from having carts driven through the mud sounds unpleasant?  Could you switch your metaphor from rut to groove and enjoy it more?  Or would you rather be making progress, even bumpy, dusty progress?  I guess the idea is that you’re stuck in a rut, not going anywhere, whereas in a groove you go round and round, getting from the beginning of the song to the end.

But in mid-June, it seems rather appropriate to be trundling down a dusty, rutted road, and to be forced to go on because of the wheels’ place in the ruts.  It’s a pleasant, sunny road, with some shade trees, and at the end of the day there will be a little town with fresh water, good food, wine, and beds with clean sheets, so let’s just go on.  What will you be working on, back in the wagon bed?

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

Work practices

En cualquier caso, [Manuel de Faria e Sousa] se entregaba, en primer lugar, a la redacción de borradores sobre la base de las notas y súmulas que previamente había tomado, anotando, además de las autoridades que citaba, cuáles habían sido las bibliotecas y archivos en hos que había trabajado.  El número de estos borradores era variable, pero nunca menor de dos, con frecuencia tres y en algunos casos quatro, cinco y hasta seis.  Apurado, así, el contenido del texto, procedía al definitivo traslado del último borrador hasta conseguir lo que denomina un original en limpio.

Fernando Bouza, Corre manuscrito, 30.

Did Bob just say that?

We caught up on the DVR’d last stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné tonight, a long hard pull uphill in the rain and fog.  About the winner of the eighth stage, Alessandro de Marchi, Bob Roll said, “It wasn’t so much a victory march as a cold and broken hallelujah.”

Awe. Some.

Two great tastes that taste great together: cycling and Leonard Cohen.  Hallelujah!

Maygust 2013 writing group, week 5

Here we are again, Monday morning (or maybe Sunday night), planning for the week to come.  Maybe you’re finally getting geared up for the summer.  Maybe your plans have changed.  Maybe you’re ready to make some change in your schedule, to do more of what’s helping you work or face that something isn’t going so well.

This week, how will you advance your project?

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