Day 7: Whittling

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I finished the goal I had set for Friday, which means I finished the literature review section of this chapter -- something I had been struggling with for about 2 months, if not longer. And, let me tell you -- that felt great. Literature review sections are so daunting, because how on earth are you ever going to read everything ever written on the subject? It is impossible. So you always feel like they are incomplete, inadequate, and that they are leaving something vitally important and completely obvious out that will prompt a Committee Member in the Defense, to say something like, "Why did you not cite Seminal Work X here in this section? What does Important Historian say about your subject?" And then you have that deer-in-the-headlights moment where you just freeze and hope that the oncoming tractor trailer truck doesn't actually see you standing there in the middle of the road waiting to be hit. I've been hoping to avoid moments like that in my Defense. But, at some point you just have to cross your fingers and hope that you've hit all of the biggies, and that you didn't neglect any of the things that either your Committee Members wrote, or that their Advisors (who I like to call the Grandvisors to clarify their relationships to me) wrote.

I now have a couple of days to make up for if I'm going to stick to my schedule for this chapter -- which I am quite determined to do. Today's goal is to get most of the way through the trimming and shaping of the section of the chapter where two Congressmen go at it exchanging insults for days, finally culminating in a mild thrashing of one during a rainstorm in Washington. It's pretty much the funnest part of my dissertation. I've got some good stuff already in that section, probably the strongest in the chapter so far -- but it is tediously repetitive and excessively long. So it should be kind of interesting to hack away at it today. Like whittling. If I actually whittled. (What a weird word, whittling...) Where you start with this big block of nothingness and chip away at it until you've got a pipe or an eagle or a dog or something. Boy, doesn't that reveal my cultural referents that I think of whittling first, rather than, hello, SCULPTING? I guess where I'm from more people chip away a hunks of wood than blocks of marble. Anyway, I hope that today I don't chip away all day and then look down and find a pipe, but rather, a workable section of this chapter.



At 10:11 AM Suz said...

Thanks for the good morning smile and good luck today.

Thanks also for the vision of whittling -- which is just what the mountain of paperwork on my desk needs. To whittling!

At 6:36 AM Helen said...

Hope you got lots of whittling done yesterday! I always feel quite sad when I have to whittle, because I end up deleting parts that I sweated blood to write, and now I don't need them ... Keep at it!

At 9:44 AM zelda said...

good luck with all your writing! i started a blog to track progress, too. it's helpful to be able to SEE what you've done. (it also cuts down on the number of neurotic emails i send to my family and friends - i'm sure they're grateful!).

At 11:16 AM Stewgad said...

Thanks Suz, Helen, and Zelda!
I did get a lot done (see today's forthcoming post).
And, Helen, I'll address your comments there.

Zelda - Thanks for stopping by! I'll add a link to your blog, if you don't mind. Anyone who appreciated the Fifth Element enough to name their kitten LeeLoo is alright with me!


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