So I'm ensconced in a nearby coffee shop, attempting both to beat the heat (which isn't terrible in my apartment when the windows are open and fans going, but which isn't as conducive to work as it might be) and to inspire myself to new heights of productivity with a change of setting. Because, that's right: it's time to get back to my chapter--the new one, with which I intend to open my monograph (there will also, presumably, be an introduction, but that's not on my radar right now).
The problem is, I have no idea what to do with it. It's been three months since I looked at it and two months since I received Advisor's comments, and I thought I was ready to look at it with fresh eyes. . . but I find I still can hardly bear to reread it. I've revised the opening so many times that I know the sentences pratically by heart, and whether they're working or whether they're not, I'm almost incapable or reading them in an evaluative way: they just are. In theory, I continue to be excited by this material, and in theory I know at least some of what needs to be done to it--the sorts of moves that need to be made, if not exactly how to make them. But I don't know, practically, how to crack this project back open.
I seem to recall that with the third chapter of my dissertation, with which I had similar but much more serious problems, I got to the point where I basically set aside the version that I'd been writing and revising for months, opened a new document on my computer and started writing from scratch. I kept a copy of the first version at my elbow, just in case (as well as to reassure myself: I wasn't really starting from scratch! I'd already written 40 or 50 pages!). Eventually I did start incorporating material from that first version into my new one, but not very much, in the end. Had the new version not gone so well, I'd probably have been depressed about how much material and how many months of work I'd cast aside. . . but it did go well, and I continue to think that it's my best chapter.
So, I wonder if that's what I need to do now, at least with the chapter's opening (the later stuff needs work, but I think it's generally progressing in a satisfactory direction). I also wonder whether part of the problem isn't that this IS my first chapter, and I'm freaking out a little about the degree to which it needs to feel like an opening chapter, and set the stage for the later ones, rather than being a nicely self-contained and self-regarding project. But how do I set the stage when the other chapters, too, will need revising and rethinking?
Wise and beautiful readers, what do you do at this stage?