Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Update on the Book

So. I worked on it all afternoon. I've still got miles to go before I put the thing to bed, but I've addressed or made notes about how to address all of the comments that I got back, and I went back through the report (in spite of my hatred of actually dealing with criticism of my work) to figure out where I stand with the thing. The prognosis is fair.

So, tomorrow I've got a meeting in the late afternoon, but I only teach for one hour and I've got one office hour. The plan is that during the office hour I'll work on typing some changes in and get through the changes in the two chapters that need the least work. Then, I'll go to the gym. I'll go home and shower and get some food, and then I'll head back to the office. I'll (I hope) get through another chapter before the meeting. When I go home tomorrow, I'll start working through some of the more substantive changes on another chapter.

Thursday, I'll get through all of the other minor changes.

Then comes Friday, the hard part. In one chapter I need to do a lot of revamping with organization in order to make illuminate the argument that drives it. In another chapter, I need to do some major fleshing out, some reorganization, and a brief digression into analyzing another novel.

Then I shall watch The Ghost Whisperer and have a much needed good cry (I hope) when some earthbound spirit enters the light.

Then Saturday, I'll finish with all the changes, and deal with formatting issues (which will most likely mean going into the office, sigh).

Sunday I hope shall be a day of rest.

Monday I will print the motherfucker out and mail it off. And then I will await word from my editor about final editing stuff and the index, and I won't need to think about the thing until November, when I will make the final push.

A note about the editing I'm doing: in large part, I'm feeling very positive about the manuscript as a whole. It is so different from the dissertation. A reader caught but one sentence that was terribly jargon-y, and only two sentences that were weirdly abstract and incomprehensible. Overall, the writing itself is strong. Also, I'm confident that what I'm doing is truly new work that really does make a contribution to my field.

As for the writing itself, can I just say how much I think the blog contributes to the fact that the writing is strong? While this thing is based on my dissertation, it bares so little resemblance to that document in terms of the strength of the writing. I also think it's notable that feedback I've gotten indicates that the strongest chapters are the ones that are most revised or actually new additions to the manuscript. I've found my voice as a critic over these years of blogging, and while I think my voice was strong in the dissertation (indeed, it's the only full-on compliment I ever received from my adviser, when he told me after my defense that my dissertation was actually pleasurable to read) I know that I've really found it now. That's not to say that it won't change or develop, but I have a confidence now in my writing voice that I didn't have when I submitted the dissertation, and that confidence, I think, has a lot to do with the project of writing regularly for an audience. No, my academic voice isn't identical to this one, but developing this voice helped me to find my academic voice.

As for the content, well, I am so indebted to my adviser for helping me to pursue the line of inquiry that I chose. In many ways, my work has very little to do with his, but his influence is still all over the thing, in ways that are totally positive, I think. My relationship with him is a weird one for many reasons, but perhaps the best thing about it is that he never wanted me to be a miniature version of him: he allowed me to pursue my own ideas while offering me his expertise. It wasn't warm and fuzzy, but it also wasn't some sort of dictatorship and I was never an extension of him and his work. I'm a better writer for having written under him, and a better thinker for having thought under him. Of course, because of the nature of our relationship, I can never actually tell him this, as we'd both be terribly embarrassed by any such conversation. But if I'm anything as a scholar and as a mentor, I've learned how to be that from him. At the end of the day, he respected what I was trying to do, and he didn't impose himself on the project. For that I am so, so grateful.

So is the book "good"? I think that it is. I'm sure there are things about it that can be stronger. It's not perfect, and it's not going to be even after the changes. But I'm proud of it. And I will be so fucking happy to get it out of my life.


Sisyphus said...

Rock on!!! Mail it off! I'm looking forward to reading it someday.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

This is wonderful to read. Really. As I sit mired in the hell of my revisions (these are the really deep, agonizing ones you make *before* you get to the point you can send it out), I'm so glad to hear from someone who is on the point of coming out the other side. Thank you!