Monday, June 4, 2012

A Pseudo-Break and Some Reflections on Productivity and Improvement

I sent an article back to the editors today, having done kind of a rubbish job of the edits. I refined the point that I was making but didn't really do anything to set it into a broader context. Not only have I been working basically nonstop, never getting out of my chair, scrambling to write three sentences while the water boils for pasta, but I put in an especially intense ten weeks running up to my presentation of the beginnings of book chapter one in Tel Aviv. And I hit the point that I hit after my post-defense dissertation revisions, where I was basically looking at the comments, looking at my work, and thinking to myself, well, there are some words on this page; I'm sure that's very nice. So with a few footnotes about how further study is required to understand how the translation of the sentence I was talking about fits into the history of philosophy, I gave up and emailed it off.

My fed-upness with the article was a bit more complicated than just being tired, though. I wrote most of the article almost 18 months ago, and looking at it now, well, it seems really grad-studenty. It's fine enough, but it's amazing to see the qualitative leap my work has taken, even in just the last six months as I have started to work on the book. I know everyone always looks back at earlier work and cringes, but I do think that this will be a larger cringe than future ones. In a way, I'm really pleased because I'm actually okay with the work I'm doing now. It's pretty good. But I'm also cringing. And it wasn't like the article would have been easy to revise to bring up to my new standard. When I start to write the second chapter of the book, which is where the content from this article will be included as a part, I'm going to start completely from scratch. I'll take some of the evidence, but I'm going to handle the details and the big picture very differently; and I just didn't have that kind of time to undertake a total, massive rewrite before the deadline. So off it goes, grad-studenty.

But just plain tired and burned out is a big part of it, too, so I'm taking a month off. I definitely haven't had a real proper break from my academic work since I got to NYU. I even realized that I've sort of forgotten how to just take one single day off from my work and go do something enjoyable out in the city.  Of course, all I mean by "a month off" is working on a sort of 9-5 schedule beginning to tick things off my to-do list that are totally unrelated to my dissertation/book manuscript topic, and then attempting to resume reading for pleasure, having hobbies, and generally taking advantage of being human in New York once I've quit for the day. So, in my nice relaxing month away from the Banu Tibbon and the 24-7 schedule, I shall:

-- Finish a manuscript review that is two months late
-- Organize the files in my office
-- Write two book reviews
-- Finish an essay on gargoyles
-- Finish revisions to my revise-and-resubmit article from the fall
-- Finish and polish two chapters from my grand literary translation project
-- Answer queries from a Swedish translator (don't ask)
-- Write some meatier blog posts with some real content
-- Work on my team teaching grant-funded project

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