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April 04, 2009

Edit my chapter?

April 4. Day 278.

I've gotten to the point in this chapter where I've started at the sentences for so long I don't recognize them anymore. I am lodged so deeply inside every word that I can't even follow the syntax. I said that? Really?? Why?? Do I really need that "that" there? What does "because of" versus "due to" do for my argument? What does "mean" mean?

Some might call it paralysis by analysis. I just all it exhaustion.

I was actually quite excited about this chapter when I started working on it. It gives an overview about how balconies were used in literature before the 19th century, as background for the rest of the dissertation. Think the Decameron, Romeo and Juliet, Moliere's L'Ecole des Femmes, and a few more works. I have cogent arguments for every section, but it's been hard to bring everything together so that every smaller argument works in the service of a larger original one.

And I'm tired. I've been working on it since February. I've even been dreaming about it.

Well... Basta.

I need some distance. Clarity. A break.

That's when an editor comes in. Since starting grad school, I've asked a few friends to look over my writing. These generous human beings have dotted my i's and given feedback on fine tuning as well as the big picture.

This is what I requested today, from Mr. A. It wasn't a hard thing to ask for, but it was extremely valuable. Since he's written a dissertation, he knows what kind of rigor is required. And since he's not in my field (quite the opposite), his questions help me write much more clearly.

"Read it quickly, for the big picture, and tell me if it makes sense and if it's interesting. If the arguments hold together. Don't worry about the footnotes, formatting, all that. I'll do all that later. Just, if I'm moving too fast in any sections, if I'm lagging or repeating myself, tell me. And if it's disorganized or an argument is a stretch, tell me... Basically, does the skeleton hold together? Thank you!!!"

Hours later, he had comments, comments and more comments -- which I used to make a major breakthrough on one of my sections.

Gained: A crucial first edit. One step closer to turning it in!!
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