Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer and Second Draft Reflections

This week, two good friends, both on the shortlist of people who I can actually deal with in my dissertating panic, are leaving town, ne'er to return while I'm here. (Of course, they are probably skipping town because of me, quitting while they're ahead. After all, the world is all about me.) So then there'll only be one person who I can deal with in my dissertating frenzy. I already feel bad for her.

Then there is the fact of this bloggy quiet! So many people are getting rested that they don't update their blogs, probably because they have nothing to procrastinate. Yet, I, with my summer graduation, am becoming the most regular and boring blogger ever. I appreciate those of you who shout out here from time to time. How I wish you were updating your own blogs so I would have something sensational to read on my train!

So in dissertation news I dropped in my two figures, decided against fixing all the figures throughout because my readers are just going to have me adding and deleting and scooting paragraphs which would screw up my figure placement anyway, and sent the puppy to Peppy Advisor. HA! By 9am, I might add, at which point I promptly fell asleep.

So now I have to address PA's three pages of comments in preparation for turning in to readers tomorrow. Should take me about an hour and a half.

WSF said that my productivity right now kind of makes him want to shoot himself. I told him I just have lower expectations than he does. He has this grueling writing process where he contemplates each sentence. (And they are beautiful and witty sentences.) All my life I've known writers who've had to get one sentence perfect before they could go on. I appreciate that sentences build on one another -- and that if one isn't right, you could spend days going on and on in the wrong direction. (These people just do all this thinking; the one thing I've learned in my life is that I'm wrong any time I think I can think my way through things; I have to experience them. The fact is I can't approach whole ideas while they're still in my head. I must get something down so that I can read them, change them, throw spitwads at them.) I, on the other hand, pump out pages as fast as I can so I can't get too self-conscious about what I write. My thinking center critiques a lot, and I just have to outrun it. If I blather on long enough there'll be something in there worth talking about. I freewrite and freewrite and freewrite until I kind of think I know what I want to talk about. And then I freewrite some more. I'm very process-based. I freewrite until I know the shape of the piece. Then I start cutting and pasting. For me it's all about the flow of ideas, moving from one idea to the next. Once I know how the piece moves, it's easier -- usually because I've written so much by then that I just cut and paste some stuff in.

But I wish that my process, which is still painful, didn't make others feel bad about theirs. Yes, I may be working like a demon now, but I've been ABD since March 1 of last year. Then I spent the summer writing and rewriting a prospectus I totally didn't follow. By December, nine months into candidacy, I had managed a single very-bad chapter. Another by maybe February. Then I got this job and had to high-tail it. I wish I wrote like this all the time, just pumping it out of myself. I don't. I write like this in a panic and then spend months and months not able to figure anything out. This is no way to spend a whole career. It's not a bad way to pull a dissertation out of your ass. (I feel sure I'll spend the next six months following my graduation doing no writing whatsoever.)

I need to remember these things for the future. I also need to figure out a more balanced writing process so that I'm not writing like a demon as my ass spreads to gargantuan proportions. There's got to be a way to write things on a regular basis and work out.

Apparently, one of the side effects of dissertating is blathering. I do it on the phone as well as on the blog. OY!


gwoertendyke said...

i think your process sounds great--we each have our own idiocyncratic ways of writing. and as always, the best dissertation is the finished dissertation.

and congrats, i had no idea you already had a job--that makes everything different. finish line right in front of you!

GayProf said...

I thought you promised me a drinkie.

Earnest English said...

AH: It's not t-t, but who cares??? I'm outta here. Or since I'm in a Clueless state of mind just now: I'm outie.

GP: Anything for you! I would even *buy* you a drink. (Of course, don't tell the creditors love me so much they call me everyday.) I hope you're coming to Grad City! Not for your sanity, of course. But for the folks of Grad City. Maybe a drinkie before we sail past each other in the night?

Sisyphus said...

Writing styles: the chiselers vs. the vomit-ers. I'm one of the latter; immense amounts of spew, very fast, but it's a bitch to clean up. (I don't understand the chiselers; they seem to be carving diamonds or something, and can spend hours in front of the computer and just change an adjective. But oh well.)

And if you think you're slow, I've been ABD since March of 2004. It's taken me about a year per chapter (well, 9 mos. and then some waiting time for the committee response). I'm feeling especially snail-like in comparison to you today.

Heh. I'm going to go watch tv instead of work then. I have to be consistent to my pace.

kdaisy said...

Hi Earnest! I'm a chiseler writer, myself, but I wish I weren't. My advisor wishes I weren't, too. Sigh.
And hey, if you figure out a way to write things on a regular basis *and* work out, wouldja let me know? I seem only capable of doing one or the other.