Thursday, July 08, 2010

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

So, before I can even get to something vaguely substantive, can I just say that it's mothercussing HOT up in here?! It's not even 8 a.m., and it's 84 degrees and humid. In the house. Yagh. And this is totally not helping the small but virulent case of poison ivy blisters that I managed to acquire sometime last weekend. Balls. The only thing stopping me from pouring concrete over the entire yard so as never to have to maintain it would be the fact that it would really increase the heat factor. And thus, we've come full circle.

But while I've self-pityingly, with morbid fascination, watching beads of sweat form and roll down my leg while I'm indoors, sitting perfectly still, exerting as little energy as possible, I've also been trying to revise and resubmit this co-authored article that I should have finished last summer. While I was selling our house. And buying a new one. And pissing and moaning about that.

There are several things that are not helping with the r&r (and may I just say, for the record, that there is a brutal irony in the fact that this kind of "r&r" is so antithetical to the other kind of "r&r" which is what I should be doing in the height of the summer?!! ).
• we waited, like assholes, to go back to this article, and thus have to account for all relevant research that's been published since the first time we sent it out, up to and including a major revision of a primary piece that we're critiquing. Crapballs.
• in the course of examining said new research, I've pulled a couple of pieces from the journal that we're revising for. And while the articles are interesting (I guess), they're not world-rocking. There's nothing that I've read thus far that makes me sit up and say: "gee, I never thought of that!! This is totally going to change the way I think about x!"
• the above lack-of-revelation makes me wonder why we're working so damn hard on this revision.
• and then I realize that it's because my writing partner is an evil demon-sprite of revision integrity, in which she believes that anything worth rewriting is worth rewriting right, and thus we've torn this sucker down to it's pegs and started over with the detritus.
• I know that this should make me feel all high and mighty, but instead I keep wondering if we couldn't just make exactly the changes suggested by the editors and be done with the whole thing. A month ago. When we go back in our DeLorean time machine.
• I'm mighty suspicious of journal articles and scholarly publishing in general right now, and that attitude is not making me want to toe the line about academic discourse and formatting, all of which is tedious and necessary for this revision.

Whew. The real biter, however, and the inspiration for the title of this post, is that it's only in these situations when I really realize what it is that I'm asking students to do when they write and revise. Last week, I sat down with a book and two articles that I knew needed to be integrated into the draft of the article. But where did they go? Did I need specific quotes, or did I need to gloss the argument of the pieces and use that to frame my points? In the article that is most closely related to my argument, do I need to dismantle the author's conclusions point by point, or is it enough to explain in a few lines the ways that our studies diverge?

This week, I ran through all of the dreck rough material we pounded out trying to integrate this stuff, and found myself thinking: "good Christ, is there any consistent idea that holds this paragraph together? What is it's relationship to the rest of the section? Why don't we analyze this quote here? This idea is good, but really tangential to the point we're trying to make..."

Sound familiar? So was the feeling of frustration/rage that built up. Only this time, it was aimed at me and my writing partner, not at a 20 year old budding novelist. Hi! My name is kettle---did you have something you wanted to call me?

God willin' and the crick don't rise, we'll send this sucker out by the end of the week, and then hopefully I'll never have to think about it again. But I hope that I'll have some sympathy for my students when I blithely collect the drafts of their papers in the fall.

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Blogger Sisyphus said...

Hmm, how about astroturf? Looks like grass, less heat trapping than concrete? To do that, of course, you'd have to remodel.

I think I do *all* my academic work --- maybe even all work, period --- cycling between frustration and overwhelmed whining. Are you saying there's another way to do it? :)

Thursday, July 08, 2010 11:24:00 AM  

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