Sunday, January 13, 2008

A post in which I avoid doing work by telling you how much work I've done

It's a bright and sunny Sunday morning; I've eaten, gotten some coffee, cleaned up myself and the kitchen, and read some blogs. (Sadly, no one thinks of me out here on the west coast and posts lots of interesting dirt on a Saturday night for my amusement the following morning. What, are you all going out and doing things on your Sat. nights? Stop that immediately!)

Suffice it to say my word documents are open and not calling to me at all. They look much the same as when I left them yesterday. I'm at that stage where the argument is all roughed out and I have dumped lots of quotes right where I want them to be blended in. It's just hard and slow, doing that blending, you know? Particularly because you can see exactly where I am going when you read it, and I have already written the next argumentative point, the fun part, but what needs to be done is actually introducing and synthesizing these four important scholars who have all commented on Interesting Historical Trend #42 and then pick out what little pithy phrase I will suavely and directly quote while boiling down all the rest into a smoothly flowing and lively paraphrase while not, dear god, reusing any of the same exact words Because That is Plagiarism, and that would be bad.

Now yesterday I was trying to do this, and had boiled down a bunch of crap down to a nice half-paragraph, and moved around some other notes-n-quotes because logically they need to come after this other point, and in the course of trying to create a transition between two paragraphs I think I accidentally wrote the nub of my conclusion. You'd think I would be happy, considering how much I hate writing conclusions, but no, I am very frustrated because I'm trying to work through this section paragraph by paragraph and this doesn't get me any closer to moving on from The Paragraph Transition of Hell. So what am I staring balefully at this morning? The PT of H, of course, which looks about as much fun to write today as it did yesterday, which means that if I'm not careful I will unknowingly write my introduction today instead.

But anyway, in the course of pretending to work on this part, I got the idea that I should see how much I have written so far. And now, having played with the "word count" button, I can procrastinate further by telling all of you. So here is what is going on with chapter 4:

part I
6982 words (with some intro section notes and the title and epigraph stuff and whatnot)

part II
2487 words

part III
5317 words

preliminary conclusion
384 words

So I think I can safely say: I have a zero-level draft of chapter 4! I obviously haven't been back to part II since it was a conference paper. Originally there were supposed to be four sections, because that's what dissertation chapters have, I had assumed, but on noting that I don't actually have stuff to put in an argument for part four, plus the word counts I have, I don't feel bad saying that I've just cut that right out. Part I was the section I was complaining had this interesting stuff that I couldn't tie up to my case histories, so I may be growing a wart there and need to freeze off a chunk and turn it into a conference paper or something else.

The $64,000 dollar question of course is: can I get these blobs into a coherent enough draft form that I can show it to my advisor when I meet on Thursday, given the fact that she refuses to read drafts? I have no clue what's going down in this meeting, but I want to push for walking in graduation in spring, and ask her if she would hood me, and I think handing her a chapter draft that's reasonably clean would do a lot towards convincing her I can get all my shit done before the deadlines. Hoo-ah, that all sounds kinda freaky written out in public like that. Nothing like some deadlines to get you moving!


Neophyte said...

Refuses to read drafts? What the hell else would you give her? A bound, finished, defended dissertation? What a weird policy.

Way to go with all this work, girl -- sounds like it looks like less than it is. Adrenaline will get you through, and you'll be golden.

Go! Be brilliant!

Belle said...

I agree with neo; isn't this what she is supposed to do? Now, quit dithering and playing around (stop that! shoo!) and get back to work:)

Sisyphus said...

I don't get it; why would she read a draft? She's always made it clear that she won't look at anything that still has 1)large chunks of undigested quotes without connecting statements embedding them, 2)bolded material that needs to be "fixed", 3) any notes to oneself that read something like "PUT EXPLANATION OF THE RISE IN ALIEN ABDUCTIONS DURING THE ENLIGHTENMENT HERE" or anything still with major problems in it. Basically, showing her anything that hasn't gotten through the major points of revision and down to fixing little problems of word choice and tone is wasting both her time and mine (cause even if she had good advice for a section, it might be ripped out of the draft before we meet to talk about it).

This is unlike a lot of the other profs here, but someone got told to go "off" the market because his advisor said he could out with two chapters in "draft form" --- "what will you use for a writing sample and a job talk if it isn't even in complete sentences?" asked the placement advisor.

So basically I need to fix and smooth everything (and ideally write an intro and conclusion) before Thurs. Eeep!

Earnest English said...

totally ridiculous. what's the point of having an "advisor" if you basically have to write things in isolation anyway?