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
polish dissertation for September defense
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
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
submit Article H
combine two conference papers into one article
revise article draft for publication
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
write Conference Paper B
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Revise and resubmit Floyd
revise paper for submission as article
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
finish article for Big Name Journal
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

63 thoughts on “Maygust 2013 writing group, week 8

  1. Mrph.

    I kind of punted on Monday and Friday. I’m in the stretch of summer in which working 8 hours a day every day seems so unappealing. Not that I’m doing anything fun with that time either. I just don’t feel like working. So if I don’t do this project in the morning because another is more important, chances are I don’t do it. It doesn’t help that there are 4 other projects vying for my mental space and at increasingly earlier hours of the day I hit analysis paralysis.

    I did make up for not doing 30 min on Friday by doing 30 min today.

    Goal this week is to send the big paper out for proofreading. We’ll see if that happens. I have one tiny regression to fix and run, a few papers to read, then I have to go through emails, then rewrite some stuff adding citations, then double check my citations, then read through the entire paper and send it to other folks. How I’m going to get through that I haven’t decided yet. I’m probably best off pushing through and ignoring other projects, but I also have people who need/want stuff from me.

  2. Here’s the thing about me and biking metaphors: I’m so scared of traffic that I really only bicycle in the local graveyards that are a stone’s throw from our house. I’m not sure what that says about my writing this summer!

    Last week I was at a week-long workshop, which was even more intensive than I’d imagined, but I’d vowed to do three hours of work, even if it had to be on Sunday … and indeed, I did 3 1/2 hours, on Sunday. So goal met! What was exciting is that, in addition to finishing notes on one source, I roughly outlined the chapter and wrote a whole 420 words. Yay!

    I’m in another workshop this week (what is it with me that I overscheduled my summer so much?), but I want to keep going now that I’m on a roll. So my plan for the week is five hours of work and at least 500 more words.

    1. I am impressed by your ability to come out of an intense week and then do some very intense work hours. Nicely done!

  3. I had a messed up week again with tons of administrative stuff and running after other people so that they get the stuff done I need.
    Means: no writing was done, only a bunch of reading.
    This week at least starts in a normal fashion, so hopefully I’m more productive as well.
    Goal for this week: write a ten page summary about my research and about how awesome I am and hand it in to my boss to check.

  4. Last week’s goal was two hours of work a day. Let’s just say that some days I met the goal and some days I didn’t. But I did pretty well in terms of my word count goals, etc. I hate that the summer is going so quickly and I hate even more that I am so overscheduled that it cuts into the precious work days of summer.

    Looking back on what I have accomplished (I know this was really last week’s comment, but I only skimmed the instructions last week and missed it), I feel like I have made a lot of progress, but I wish I was in this place in the beginning of June rather than at the beginning of July. Oh well.

    Goals: 1. Make an actual (written) plan for the day every day. 2. On that plan have at least 2 hours of work and a writing goal of 1,000 words. 3. Stick to plan.

    My project needs a speed trial stage. Intense spewing of words that I will then go back and fix up. A couple weeks of such stages and I will be in pretty good shape. Then the hills will come…

  5. I am at the break stage. This week I’m in the Outer Banks with family for a week vacation. I did bring a super-rough draft with me just in case I felt like sitting down early one morning for a read through. But that’s all. Next week will be the “speed trial stage.”

  6. I didn’t do as much as I had hoped — both because a crisis I had to deal with from work, and then because I started getting a cold and felt really awful. But I managed to get through most of what I needed on the weirdest type of source, and started on the next set. The first example of genre 2 ended up being really interesting, though I think the criticism is missing something, at least as far as I can tell. (Though this is nothing new — historians often think lit scholars have missed something crucial in literary texts!) I thought on Friday that I had managed to land in that place where a piece of research that seemed promising disappears into mush, but this morning I sort of found a way forward.

    So this week I’ll read some more of genre 2, and then by Friday, let myself go off to the archives, and read the stuff that I understand…. What is interesting about this is part of what I’m working out is how I can work with the kinds of sources I’m less comfortable with.

    As for biking metaphors, I think this is a long flat section. Nothing spectacular, but does require just plugging along. That’s the way I bike anyway…

    1. “Historians often think lit scholars have missed something crucial in literary texts!”

      And vice versa. Funny how asking different questions yields different answers—and fascinating that the same text can spark such different questions.

  7. I am hanging at the back of the peloton, definitely needing but also anticipating a flat stage. Hoping for a burst of energy along the way. I didn’t get any writing done this week, but I did buy a house, and am so excited about having my own office for the first time in my life. So there will be much boxing up this week, but hope to integrate that section 2 organization into it, as I find I can usually think through things when I carry them with me into other physical activities (like packing boxes) that require minimal intellectual engagement.

    1. Congrats on a new house! Packing is the pits. I hope you can manage good intellectual progress in the process.

  8. I spent the last week at my sister’s because my BIL was struck by a cr and killed. Funeral, help with kids, etc. need to return to the grant article so it can go out this week. I’m trying hard to protect work time from moving and other life activities so that this can get done. I guess I’ll call this week a writing success if I can honestly say the manuscript is ready to go OR if I can get feedback from one more person and incorporate that feedback by next week.

    1. There are not words — I’m so sorry. Sometimes life intervenes, and yanks us out of our cocoons. Good luck protecting work time as you move forward.

    2. Oh, dear. What a loss, and what a shock. I’m very sorry. Sometimes there are more important things than work (though work can also be a refuge of the familiar and controllable at such times).

  9. I think I became stuck with my paper revision project. I have made a plan of revision but now for me the plan looks worthless and the paper itself seems to need fundamental reconstruction, otherwise so meaningless. This may be because I did some research then found new materials and new studies on the topic, which overwhelmed me.

    This week I feel so astray that I did little work on the project, rather working on administrative papers and class preparation and so on.

    Goals for this week: think calmly what I can do now and reset my motivation and do something concrete, not thinking that my project and I are worthless.

    I am sorry but this post reflects my mental chaos. Is there any good bike-racing metophor on this situation?

    1. Cyclocross, I think—cross-country on a bike, muddy and chaotic. Working on the other things seems like a good way to do something productive while you adjust to the new information and think how to proceed from here.

    2. I’ve never been terribly good at the linking-my-thoughts-to-the-scholarly-conversation part of the whole business, so I’ll be interested to hear how you resolve your dilemma. I often find myself trying to isolate and look at the two parts — what do I have to say? What are the others scholars saying (individually and in conversation with each other)? — separately, and then try to tackle identifying the intersections, but I’m not sure how well that works. There’s a reason I like working on lesser-studied texts (the connections to the scholarly conversation are there, but they’re more tangential, and often I get to go find answers to questions that arise from my analysis, rather than having to put my analysis in dialogue with an existing conversation).

  10. Did well M-W and have about 2100 brilliant words, zip Th-Su as I am in parent-land and there are medical and also legal issues to deal with. That will continue all of this week.

    I had planned to touch work each day this week but had not been prepared for the situation I find. Therefore I have no plans to accomplish anything. I will take any opportunity that arises but it will be as vacation from what is going on and not as requirement.

    I arrive home Sunday July 6 and will have more control over life from July 7, Monday.

    1. You’ve been making very good, steady progress, and living a sane and healthy life besides. Taking a break to deal with the parental issues sounds sensible. Good luck with them.

  11. Poetic justice is a bitch.

    I wanted a nice calm summer at home in which I got lots of work done, focusing on a single easy-to-complete project here and then working on the others that have to get done quietly on my own, without posting about them, or talking about them in separate posts from the writing group project.

    I’m going to be moving in late August. Between now and then, I have a house guest and a vacation scheduled. I thought I was starting the summer slow but steady, ramping up to greater productivity later in the summer, and now I feel like I’ve gone off the road and am careening wildly through the underbrush trying not to hit a tree.

    Goal for the week: try to carve out at least one hour a day for research, keep up with exercise, and have fun with my visiting friend. Do not stand around imitating an Edvard Munch painting.

    I think I need to go sign up for the Top-Left Quadrant Group for July.

    1. Very exciting about the move, if you are excited about the house. And this goes to your question about study color, and the answer is, it probably depends on the light in the house whether you stick with that color. (And I know, worrying about paint colors is a great time waster.)

      I’m glad you have a friend visiting, and hope you can just enjoy, while still plugging along.

      1. Light in the planned study will be similar to the old one, though with east added to south. I’ll probably stick with the light orange or something similar. It has to go over a very dark wall, so I’m not sure how that will work. The sellers were big on accent walls; the colors aren’t appalling, but wouldn’t be my first choices, either. But since I don’t mind the idea of accent walls, it lessens the amount of painting and degree of hassle if we just re-paint those walls rather than having to paint every room, since the paint there is in good shape and the unaccented walls are acceptable colors. But yeah, my mind is totally on paint colors when it should be on work, and on lists of things to do to sell our current place when it should be on work, and so on.

    2. Congratulations on the new house! And I, too, love the Munch image; it is, in fact, a pretty good representation of how I feel (and how I get paralyzed) when I’m trying to juggle too many priorities.

  12. Oh, I am definitely in a mountain stage. It was relatively easy to shape and organize my article, and to insert bits in ALL CAPS that said things like INSERT NECESSARY BACKGROUND HERE. Now I have to bloody *do* that inserting, and that’s slow work. Oh well, plugging away.

    In other news, over the last two weeks, I’ve inserted the theoretical background stuff, and last week I realized it was threatening to take over the first third of my paper, so I relegated much of it to the footnotes. That’s creates a *much* better structure for the paper now. And, even with the cutting and rearranging, I’m still about 1000 words ahead of where I was last week. So I’ve got my base to tackle those mountains!

    1. I’m a huge fan of relegating things to footnotes! At least, those things that threaten to take over a project.

      Hang in there as you keep heading up the mountain.

    2. And my experience with the “INSERT NECESSARY BACKGROUND HERE” sections is that what “everyone knows” sometimes becomes oddly elusive when you’re trying to pin it down.

    3. Amen to both of the comments above. Sometimes the footnotes are a way-station on the road out of the paper, of course (well, at least for me, especially since I tend to write long and cut), but figuring out what’s central and what’s peripheral is a good first step in any case. And yes, “insert x here” notes always seem to take longer to flesh out than expected, and in some cases can be wormholes/rabbitholes into another dimension. Either the answer isn’t so obvious as it seems, or it just takes longer to find that one expects. I still think such notes are a useful device when one is initially drafting, but I also suspect wise authors allow plenty of time in the later-draft/revising stage to deal with them. If it were easy to fill them in, after all, we’d just do so in the first flush of writing. We write them precisely because we know that filling them in will interrupt the flow.

      1. Interesting discussion—helpful for me as I struggle to figure out what bits of the MMP-1 belong in footnotes, what’s important enough to be in the main paper, whether the notes are too long, whether if in the main paper the material is too distracting from main point . . . . ARGH. But misery loves company! Thanks.

  13. Last week: revise first half of ER chapter; read some of Relevant Book. (Bonus: more of ER; some or all of Arc chapter revisions.)

    What I did: not much, but not nothing. I compiled all the comments from advisor and editor on ER and Arc. I got through the first third of ER, fixing about half of the things that need fixing and making a list for the others.

    I’m going to miss the soft deadline for completing ER, but I need to push ahead to finish soon. For this week, I’m scheduling work hours for the ABC strategy. I need to use evenings and weekends more effectively. This week includes a holiday and a trip to my MILs, both of which afford me extra childcare. So for my Tour analogy, I’m on a steady climb (oh, it hurts!), but someone just refilled my water pack and slapped a few energy gels in my hand.

    For this week: BIG THING: complete ER revision pass; do 5 of the remaining tasks on ER; read some of Relevant Book. (work 13 hours)

  14. I’m just back from my conference in Toronto. The conference was great but I got absolutely no work done (other than presenting). So this week’s goal is to get back on track and do some reading and note-taking for the Methods paper as well as review the memo I wrote to help refresh my mind and my enthusiasm for the paper.

  15. Met one of my goals in the sense that I got some good writing done, but no real reading. This weekend I was at a conference, and earlier in the week I got two pieces of bombshell news that have me pretty disoriented (not in a good way. Though, Hypatia’s awful news by far outweighs mine in seriousness. Wow.)

    But the best way to cope with emotional bombshells I have no control over is to keep working on this project. So, this week’s goal is going to echo last week’s goal: finish Book 3; start on Book 4, with the addition of “fix the awkward sentence.” And once those three things are done, the article is ready for resubmission.

    (reverts to undergrad self for a minute: if only Book 3 weren’t so looooong….)

    1. I sort of know what you mean about comparing badness… I keep thinking things like “it’s really inconvenient and stressful to reschedule [all the things that were scheduled last week due to grant start up and moving house].” Then I think that my sisters life is so much more difficult than mine is now. But the truth is stress is stress and comparing is not so helpful. So, keep working –that’s my strategy also– and hopefully one source of stress will go away…the project will eventually finish.

    2. Disorienting bombshells are disorienting bombshells; if they significantly increase disorder, uncertainty, etc. in your world, then they’re a real distraction, even if someone dealing with a more extreme situation might see them as comparatively minor.

      But/and yes, work can be a refuge (and of the various ways of compartmentalizing/retreating at least temporarily into denial/whatever, vanishing into work is one of the ones that’s most likely to have longterm good consequences, or at least not produce longerm bad ones).

  16. My goal for the last TWO weeks has been to revise chapter one. I am making very slow progress.

    A very busy week. I have moved house and it took me longer than I expected. I am also teaching every day. The good news is that I have been writing every day. This week is a very short week because of the holiday so I plan to hole up in my new place (no internet access).

    Next week’s goal: finish chapter one and move on to chapter two, which I know does not need a lot of work.

  17. My goal was notes on 10 lines of text and I got notes on 9 lines done, so not too bad.

    I think I need to take a week off from working on this piece of work to accommodate other things, but I’ll set a goal for the next two weeks which is to make notes on a further 10 lines of text.

  18. I hope that I can squeeze in my check-in–we were out of town without internet until about an hour ago.

    This week’s goals were mostly met, more or less, but in a less-than-wholehearted way. And the coming week promises to be very busy (houseguests). So I’m going to try to keep reading H, and work on that bibliography, and freewrite a page if I can.

  19. Way behind this week. Had good discussion with writing partner though and I think I get where things need to go. I’m in mountain stage, I think. Only one section to work on this week.

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