Friday, May 6, 2011

Article Breakthrough: It's Real Now

There's been radio silence over here because of super-busyness and some really good things: AL got a new job and enjoys it (the uncertainty over all that was what caused the weekend of suckage) and so we're looking to rent a house. I'm quite obsessed over this last point actually.

But what I want to note right now is that I've been agonizing over the revision to my article -- and think I've had an epiphany. I work and work and work, researching bits and writing out possibilities and thinking through different choices. But I don't actually revise an article by adding to it or toying with the existing draft -- at least one I completed so long ago (Chapter 1 of my dissertation). I just can't do that. Instead the old draft becomes what I call a feeder document. It becomes bits and pieces I can cut and paste into the new article, which has to be a new document. I think of it like this: to build the house that is an article, the framework has to be new. I can then use existing pieces to paint and even build ductwork and all that, but the framework (by which I don't mean a theoretical framework) has to be new. I did my dissertation this way, using other stuff I'd written but connecting it together with a new articulation of the main argument. Only when I figure out the movement of the article (how it will flow) can I realistically think about keeping a word count or anything. Until then I'm writing-to-think or working out issues or doing bits and pieces that will end up in the piece (after all, I have to do all the research that I will cut and paste!), but not actually tallying up pages.

The nice thing is that when I do finally write it through, the pages accumulate quickly because so many of the pieces just need to be tweaked. (When I started really humming on my dissertation and I'd do six pages a day, it was always like this, though I'm sure everyone thought I was actually writing all six pages and that I was some kind of fast writer -- yeah right. Instead, it takes me ages to collect all the crap together and write innumerable comments before I can get to this stage.)

The good part is that I think I'm at that stage. I've reduced the scope of my argument and worked out some of the biggest kinks, I hope. I've managed 438 words in a new fresh document, though mostly it's still notes. But it's a start. And it feels real now. Cross your fingers that the pages will accumulate quickly because my May 22 deadline is right around the corner. And I'm teaching and looking for houses and then there's the Tot's terrible sleeping fiasco. I should ask y'all what to do about that at some point. For now I have to go. I hope all y'all's semesters are coming to an easy and happy close. Whimper whimper whimper for those of us on the quarter system!!!!


Anonymous said...

Wow, good luck with all of the projects! Kind of cool (though can be stressful, I know) when big changes happen.

And happy mother's day to you.

Renaissance Girl said...

6 pages a day?!?!?!

Earnest English said...

I know, RG. It seems like a lot until you find out that it's because I'm just stringing together stuff that I've already done!

I *wish* I could pump 6 pages of readable stuff out of myself a day. 6 pages of total crap/freewriting? Yes. Easy-peasy. But mostly me just saying the same thing over and over.

Anonymous said...

I miss you. I like the new digs. Good luck with all the stuffs!