In this case, though, I found most of what she had to say entirely constructive and entirely to the point, and the one comment with which I strongly disagreed made me feel not anxious and doubtful but instead slightly smug and superior (on the grounds that I think there's more to a particular issue than she does, and I'm quite sure the finished product will bear me out). So that's progress.
But as happy and relieved as I was by this outcome, aspects of our correspondence were a little unsettling. This was the very first line of her email:
"I spent a good deal of time last night lying awake thinking about [your chapter]."And no, that's definitely not a joke. Nor had she finished my chapter immediately before going to bed, nor had she just emailed me or I her; in other words, there was no reason for her to have me and my work in mind as she settled in to start counting sheep.
I'm always, I think, rather surprised by the discovery that I take up space in anyone's head when I'm not actually intruding myself upon his or her presence, and such an occurrence seems still more unlikely when it comes to Advisor, who gives the impression of rigorously purging her mind on a nightly basis of anything not immediately relevant to the next day's business. But this is the second time in three weeks that I've had evidence that I take up some small amount of her psychic space: at my most recent conference--the very same week that I mailed my chapter to her--I ran into one of Advisor's other former advisees, someone with whom I barely overlapped in grad school and barely know. "Hey," he said, "I just talked to [Advisor] the other day, and she mentioned that she was looking at something of yours."
"Really?" I said. I must have looked stricken, because he added, reassuringly, "that's all she said; I'd just asked her what she was up to."
I don't flatter myself that my work is so compelling that--even in draft form!--it keeps people up nights; if anything, this is surely proof of how consumed by our field Advisor is: any new work, any new idea, engages her to the point that she wants or needs to think it through immediately.
Nevertheless, being the vehicle for such engagement is nice, and the wide-ranging nature of her comments--which dealt not just with this chapter, but with the structure of the manuscript as a whole--surprised and flattered me. It's always agreeable to feel that you're worth someone's time. . . especially someone of such monstrous efficiency.