Another Damned Writing Group Meets again!
And here we are. The lovely and kind Dr. Notorious has kindly put together the update list, and it’s only down to me to post. Lots of people have finished their projects — GO YOU!! I have barely done anything, and honestly, it leaves me feeling a bit numb. At most times, I’d think it was self-sabotage, but the extra things that ended up on my plate this year were not planned, nor were they really things I could turn down. Adding the extra illness-y things didn’t help, and it was interesting to see how easily seemingly small things can snowball. Shit really does sometimes happen. And sometimes, we just don’t know how to deal with it very well. Or we do. I’ve been fairly successful in not letting it dump me into massive self-recrimination, but maybe that’s just the meds. Or the therapy. Maybe I’m just starting to get that we can’t do everything, all the time. I have to say that you all have been wonderful, and the checking in every week, even though it was with pretty shitty progress reports, at least kept my mind focused more on the things I need to get done, and made me think of ways to try to make up for lost time, alternate routes to publication, etc. And some of you kindly made me feel like I wasn’t imagining that I’ve had a lot to do, even though I know some of you regularly do a lot more.
One of the reasons I decided to write about this was that I know so many people who have been overwhelmed this semester. Students and faculty both seem particularly wiped (although the freshmen not so much). In a couple fo my classes, I can see why: I’m teaching some new things, and the work has got hard. It’s part of what’s been hard for me, too. Teaching students how to do research and write is hard. I had a real plan for my course, and you know? I think the components were all fine, but I had them in the wrong order. I’ve been trying to get them to see themselves as writers, scholars, historians in training… Sometimes, it’s worked, other times, not so much. I’ve not always realized what things people do and don’t already know. And despite my trying to give them the best of my experience, and show them the things no one every showed me or taught me about writing and the writing process, it’s the end of the semester, and I can see that every bit of advice, every tool I’ve tried to give them, has pretty much skittered off under the sofa and is hiding with the dust bunnies and battered cat toys. At the same time, though, I’ve talked to a few who seem to still have it together. They’ve mentioned that they have taken my advice, that they are writing in bits, fitting their research in in smaller chunks, sitting and free-writing their ideas and reactions to what they’ve read… and it seems to be working for them! These are great students anyway, but knowing that the things I’ve picked up myself and from you all and have suggested to them are helping them is kind of cool! And today, even though I was a bit worried about what I’d hear, several students talked about their projects in much greater detail and with a lot more animation than I expected. Not that I thought they couldn’t, but what they’d written in their own progress reports worried me a little, because it was vague.
Not only that, but the other students — at least some of them — asked questions. And they asked questions like, “I don’t know a lot about your particular topic, but it seems you might want to also check into this related topic — or will that take you too far into the wrong territory?” and “That’s really neat — what have you found about the racial dynamics at the time: how do they play into it?” And the students who talked about their projects had generally good answers. Sometimes they wrote down references, and sometimes they explained that they had and had discovered something, or that they hadn’t, thought it was interesting, but didn’t think that line of inquiry would help the paper. I know that for many of you, this is old hat. But this is a class that for various reasons contains students who are only at the beginning of their second year AND students who are supposed to be finishing next semester. They have mostly worked with me before (but not all of them). They mostly know each other, some very well, some slightly. And for a few minutes, it was like being with a bunch of colleagues. I didn’t need to talk, because they were running the class. One of them interrupted me to explain to another about what a good presentation looked like, paraphrasing me a bit to get my point across better than I was doing, and then giving examples from a student thesis presentation two years ago. Two years ago. For people who had been teasing me because I said that my friends and I had spent a lot of time at uni hanging out, drinking beer, and talking about classes and what we were studying, they seemed awfully collegial and looked a lot like people who thought that might be fun after all.
Oh — my goal for this week was to fit in 2 hours. I managed more than one, I think. How? I assigned an article I needed to read. But this weekend, I have a couple of ILL books to look at, and I plan to at least skim through two of them.
Roll call, with week 11 goals
- Adelaide [write a conference paper DONE!!!]
- Amcalm25/AMChristensen [finish an article]: commit to writing at least 30 minutes a day
- Amstr [revise and resubmit an article DONE!!!]
- Another Damned Medievalist [write/revise a close-to-final draft of an article]: set aside at least 2 hours to just work on the writing project
- Belledamesansmerci/Elizabeth [rough draft of a journal article]: revise to final draft the first three sections
- Bitterandjaded/Bittergrrl [finishing a dissertation chapter]: Finish proofing the chapter. Give draft to adviser. Compile list of areas to fix/rework
- Britomart [completing a draft of dissertation introduction]: Finish writing the background section on early modern emblem theory
- Cly(temnestra) [write a book chapter]: go through the piles of notes and loose paragraphs which are the next two chapters, and see what should be done with them as next writing project
- Contingent Cassandra [finish 2500-word section 2 of article draft]: lengthen Section 2 by at least 500 words
- Dame Eleanor Hull [complete a chapter of the article-turned-book]: make the edits and do the re-org that can be done now
- Dr. Virago [draft a 7500-word essay for a contracted publication]: another 500 words, at least, and set aside time for a separate project
- Erika [write a complete & final draft of an article already underway]: just keep writing for 3 hours or 500 words/ day, and beginning to fill in the holes in the argument
- Forthright [write two article-length pieces]: tidying up both articles to whatever extent possible, plus read a few straggling articles to incorporate.
- Frogprincess [Final draft of the dissertation DONE!!]: Send off the final, final submission, all bound up and pretty
- Good Enough Woman [write the first half of a dissertation chapter]: 1) read 30 pages of primary text, 2) make copies of some ILL book pages, 3) freewrite at least two pages in notebook, 4) try to find an angle for the chapter
- Gillian [4 chapters of dissertation DONE!!!]: to sort out what needs to be done with those comments and to take action on all the easy elements
- Heu Mihi [write paper for a faculty colloquium DONE!!]
- Highlyeccentric/nakedphilologist [Draft one thesis chapter]: finish the entire bastarding chapter
- Janice/jliedl [write a first draft of a chapter]: Polish the draft
- Lucie: [Complete a full draft of the PhD thesis]: Pull chapter x together so there is a completed draft; at least one hour’s uninterrupted morning writing everyday
- Luolin [finish and submit an article]: (checked in; need goal)
- Katrin/StitchInTime [Turn MA thesis into book form]: Restructure and figure out what of the bits of the project to restrict to, and what still needs to be rewritten, check, and expand
- Marie [finish turning paper into journal article]: (checked in, but from an excused absence)
- Matilda [first draft of a journal article]: 2000 words or more; re-reading sources; revising arugument
- Monks and Bones [turn a seminar paper into an article]: 1) Reread paper; 2) As start by writing footnotes to conference version of paper; 3) Read massive doctoral dissertation in research language that seems like it might be making similar argumentsabout a neighbouring area.
- Notorious Ph.D. [write a conference paper]: get two new books skimmed and incorporate them in areas where the paper seems weak
- NWGirl [Revise one dissertation chapter into a book chapter]: finish complete draft of one section of the chapter I started working on ten weeks ago
- Salimata [write a conference paper DONE!!!]
- Scatterwriter [revise three chapters of book]: Check the last few sources and add the last few footnotes
- Scholasticamama [draft of an article]: Methodology section, and 500 words in Argument Section one
- Sophylou: [finish revisions on an article and prepare it for submission]: more brainstorming writing, and significant reading progress in a theoretical book on subject
- Stemi [First (very rough) draft of review article]: 1) find references for new paragraph, 2) 300 new words in outline/draft document
- Susan [write a 7000 word commissioned essay]: manage a few more of the footnotes
- Trapped in Canadia [draft two chapters of the dissertation]: write 500 words
- Undine/Not of General Interest [Finish nearly done chapter and complete another]: (1) retrench, regroup, and edit the first part to see the big picture; (2) 1500 words; (3) get well into the next section
- Viola [writing an introduction and a chapter for thesis]: Transcribing?
- Zcat abroad/Kiwimedievalist [write an article]: get re-engaged with project 2 and work on secondary sources.
Week 10 Absences:
- Dr. Crazy [Finish a chapter draft begun this summer]
- Sisyphus [polish the rough draft of my article and send it out]