Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sometimes one must complain

This is one of those times.

Trivial aggravation: I'm reading this dissertation and it's not really bad, exactly--in fact, the student knows a tremendous amount and is impressively erudite--but it's just driving me crazy, because none of the 80-page chapters seem to have a central argument and the writing is frankly rather purple and why do all the critics have to be praised as "erudite" or "insightful" when they're introduced? and there are all manner of unsubstantiated claims being made--claims that plausibly could be substantiated, but they're not, so I need to keep commenting, and the commenting slows me down in doing a task that is already just boring because, again, I don't know what the central argument is.

A thesis is just so damn important.

And then you need to stay on topic, too. There's that.

This student is quite lovely in all other ways, and is not particularly interested in a research career, so the thing doesn't have to be publishable. It'll be defendable, in the end, with revision.

And s/he's done his/her research. And knows like six languages, so that's cool.

But OH MY GOD I have 48 pages to go and it's just...so...tiresome.

/end rant of the privileged.

(This is my Saturday night.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

And then of course there's politics

Other than this morning's rather chipper remarks about my upcoming semester, I haven't posted since well before the election.

And then the election happened, and I couldn't bear to write for a while.

And then it seemed like there was too much to say.

So I'm not just ignoring it, although it looks that way here. I marched on Saturday. I've sent postcards. I may volunteer for the statewide women's political caucus (ideally after July...). I've donated or pledged more money this year than I've ever given before, and I have plans for more. (Next up: donating to a domestic violence shelter in "honor" of Super Bowl Sunday.)

But I think that this could be a very good time for my scholarship, because it has come to feel like a refuge from the political world. When the news overwhelms me, I open a chapter draft and dive in.

Lemons, lemonade (she said somewhat cynically).



And may the revolution bring us all some giant bubble fun.





How the Semester is Shaping Up

Quick comparison:

  • Last semester, I had 111 students in one class (I was responsible for grading the work of 24 of them) and 14 in the other.
  • This semester, I have 5 students in my grad class--two of whom are auditing, and therefore not writing papers--and 4 in my undergrad class.
  • Last semester, I had complicated assignments: required journals in the smaller class, optional journals + a lot of papers + exams in the bigger class.
  • This semester, the pendulum has swung the other way and I have very simple assignment structures.
  • Thus whereas last semester I graded more than 600 journal entries, 150 papers, and 36 exams, this semester I will grade a total--a TOTAL--of 14 papers.
  • Last semester, I gave a talk in March and a paper at Kalamazoo (in May)
  • This semester, I am serving as a respondent at a conference in March, then presenting papers at Kalamazoo (May), Berks (June), another conference (June), and ACLA (July).
  • Oh, and it's the last semester before I go up for tenure, so I'm pushing hard to get my book in near-submittable shape.
Somehow I think that this semester is going to be busier than last.

Still, I'm pretty psyched about the grading thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Little writing update

I haven't been keeping up with my writing goal counter very well lately, in part because most of my writing has been a) on articles, or b) not contributing to my word count (e.g. REWRITING a chapter, which is now 1000 words SHORTER than it used to be).

However, I just tallied up my manuscript, and I've got 85,000 words.

So that's 5,000 shy of my goal for the year.

Which means that, pretty soon, and maybe even almost now, I'm going to have to direct my attention quite fully on replacing all of the wrong words (approx. 78,000) with the right ones.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Boomerang/Zombie/Indefatigably Persistent Article

Uggghhhh.

I finally heard back from the 4.5-month R&R journal on Monday (the second day of our lovely beach vacation). There was no mention of what the reviewers thought of my extensive revisions. HOWEVER, there is now a THIRD reviewer, who recommends R&R with a whole DIFFERENT set of concerns!

OK, that's worse than it sounds. It is an R&R. It is promised to be the final R&R. And the concerns are primarily about clarity. To which I say, fair enough--although I haven't looked at my article since I sent it off in early April, I've been really struggling with and working through the ideas that it's developing, so lack of clarity is a real possibility.

On the bright side, Reviewer 3 appreciated my mastery of the secondary literature, much of which is in a language that I'm not very comfortable with and that I spent all of the spring semester slogging through. So that's something. In fact, I'm pretty pleased about that.

Initially, though, I wasn't pleased. I had that sinking feeling of rejection all afternoon, despaired of earning tenure, etc. Why does an R&R feel so crummy?

In this case, I'm also just out of patience with this dumb article (which isn't really dumb, I don't think, and which is the exploration piece for my second book, so I need it to be acceptable--and accepted). Here's it's history:


  • Spring/summer 2011: Article drafted.
  • August 2011: Submitted to Big Journal 1.
  • September 2011: Summarily rejected by Big Journal (BJ) 1.
  • January 2012: MLA talk given on radically revised version of argument.
  • January 2012-May 2013: Article completely ignored (by me).
  • May 2013: Acknowledgement (by me) that article is total crap, but that MLA essay had something going for it.
  • July 2013: Dramatically revised article (arguing the opposite position of its previous incarnation) sent to BJ 2.
  • January 2014: Query sent to BJ 2. Editor had misplaced submission. Editor sends it to a colleague, who reports that it isn't "sharp enough." BJ 2 rejection.
  • November 2014: Radically revised/rewritten article submitted to BJ 3.
  • February 2015: BJ 3 rejects article--accompanied, this time, by a thoughtful, detailed reader's report. Progress! But reviewer doesn't buy the argument.
  • Fall 2015: Article is now taking a totally different approach. Maybe 5% of original draft is still in there, mostly in the footnotes. Sent to writing group, who offers helpful advice.
  • December 2015: Submitted to BJ 4.
  • January 2016: First R&R from BJ 4.
  • January-April 2016: Agony, struggles, rewriting, etc. Resubmitted.

And here we are. Problems solved: The argument is no longer alienating my readers, and I have accounted for the secondary literature. All of it (or so it seems).

Soooo, tomorrow, I will print my essay and start the new revisions. I HAVE TO FINISH THIS F^%#@*$ER.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Long?

So I'm in this really annoying limbo right now with two journals, both of whom gave me revise-and-resubmit verdicts, and both of whom have now been looking at my revisions for some time.

OK, in one case, it's been about a month. But it's been four and a half months in the other, so the second journal is suffering (in my mind) from the sins of the first--I simply can't deal with not hearing about EITHER ONE for ONE MORE DAY (something that I've been saying to myself for weeks and weeks now, of course).

Anyway. No substance, no plot, no resolution. I'm just getting impatient. (And I did contact the 4.5-month journal a few weeks ago. The editor sent my email along to another editor. And I wait.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Just My Ovary!

--by which I mean, not something in my ovary, but literally my ovary, which, for reasons that are not at all dangerous or pathology-related, is in a somewhat funny place (atop my somewhat funny-shaped uterus, whose funny shape is also neither dangerous nor the result of something pushing on it).

This was what the radiologist told me; I won't hear from the doctor until tomorrow, so it isn't official, but I'm pretty sure that I can sleep easily tonight.

So, well, sorry for the panic!