Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Newsflash: writing is hard

I'm writing the most difficult conference paper I've ever had to write, and it's ruining my vacation and making me even more pissy about the MLA date change than I was to begin with. (If MLA had come and gone before New Year's, as God intended, my paper would already be written and delivered and I'd be able to get on with the important business of my leave semester. Or the important business of my winter holiday. Whichever.)

Thing is, this paper is totally unlike any conference paper I've ever written. It's derived from pre-existing material, so it should be a piece of cake to prepare: cut cut cut, give a little more background, make more colloquial and sensitive to the needs of listeners rather than readers, done. But instead I'm completely reordering, rethinking, and rewriting everything--on, like, the sentence level.

Basically, this paper is an introduction to my book project. I have twenty minutes to talk about half a dozen authors and almost a hundred years, to make big, bold claims with enough detail to be credible and suggestive (rather than cursory and reductive). And right now I can't tell if what I have sounds insane. . . or like a retread of extremely old ground.

And, unusually, my panel has a good time slot. And one very heavy-hitter. So we might actually get an audience.

God. I hate writing. I hate thinking.


Susan said...

Your description of the challenge is why I hate the 20 minute conference paper: in history, you are either all argument with no evidence, or all evidence with no argument :)

Sorry I'll miss your paper, though.

Flavia said...

Susan: but you're crashing part of the conference, yes? Will you be at the blogger meet-up?

Susan said...

Yes, I'll be released from captivity for the blogger meet-up. See you there!

Renaissance Girl said...

This is why I have embraced the writing-the-conference-paper-on-the-plane strategy. This, and my shocking procrastination.

Capcha: ablech. Indeed.