Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sometimes broken camels are good

As I have already whined on this blog, my time with my family here in Hometown is sapping my will to live interfering with my professional productivity.  This has been frustrating me, since I had hoped against hope that I would be able to crank out another journal article draft this summer and press ahead with my book before I got sucked into the fall semester's teach-o-rama.

Leaving the very unpleasant family issues that I will never blog about, if I have my druthers, I am encountering fresh frustrations with my research material.  One of the difficulties of writing about living human beings is that they keep doing stuff.*  They don't just lie there in their graves, their writings patiently gathering dust in an archive until someone comes along to examine them – possibly while wearing silly little gloves – and bring them to life again.  The good people of Research Country continue to DO STUFF, which is fantastic, but all this stuff they're doing is making it very difficult for me to focus on What This Stuff Means.  This latest burst of news from RC feels, to me, the straw that breaks the camel's back.

All of which to say, I think I have to discard the idea of my Greater Blogland Writing Group article.  The material is so goddamn unstable and unsettled that any pseudology journal worth its salt will probably regard it as an in-depth journalistic piece, rather than pseudology proper.  And really, from what I hear from my colleagues, pseudology journals generally want boiled-down, intensive theory exercises based on concrete material.  The highly empirical stuff I did for that first article just won't fly.  I need time to work out a theoretical analysis for this new stuff elegant enough to bother pestering the journals with it.

And, more insidiously, I'm beginning to feel that I'm using the idea of a new article from almost-scratch as a device for avoiding finishing the motherfucking book.  Seriously, which is more important to my career, the book or the article?  I just shipped off an article for submission days ago; the journal article part of my life is not the most urgent.  The more I look at the material I've drafted for the GBWG article, the more it looks to me like it would be more appropriate – and more useful! – as the planned epilogue of my book.  I cannot let my book get derailed long-term by other shit popping up.  Life throws up enough random obstacles that I don't need to invent extras.

The article is dead.  Long live the book manuscript!

*A historian friend of mine shudders at the thought of trying to deal analytically with anything more recent and unsettled than the tenth century CE.  YMMV.


  1. One of the difficulties of writing about living human beings is that they keep doing stuff.

    So true! And living scholars, too --- they keep on *publishing* the damn things I need to read! Argh!

    I like the idea of the article becoming the epilogue of your book --- I think that you don't want to throw out all the thinking and working you have been doing, and you probably should focus on the book instead of an article anyway. Just in case you needed some sort of validation. ;)

    PS If an article is like hatching a bird, what would a book be like --- hatching godzilla? Hmm. I need to pull more silly images.

  2. Dr. K! Can't seem to find an email addy for you, but would love to pick your brain re: Budapest. If that's not a horrible imposition, drop me a note at feruleandfescue[AT]

    Glad to hear you made it back Stateside, and hoping all else is well~~