Wednesday, February 2, 2011

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Some Cloudiness . . .

The last day of this, I promise, and you can see that our sunny days are over, for now, with the good news being that any local groundhog -- or should that be our endangered Vancouver Island marmot -- will not be viewing her shadow today, so supposedly we haven't too much winter left. So I'll ignore the forecast for snowfall next week, shall I?
I've finished a first draft of my article and I'm trying to get up the nerve and the stamina and whatever fortitude I can find to read it through and get ready to revise. This is the first full-length piece of academic writing (for publication, rather than as a conference presentation) that I've started on a new topic since completing my dissertation. All the attendant anxieties about self-worth, all the suspicions of absolutely and utter banality have come flooding back in spades, and I remember the slough of despond I would get mired in during the horrid period of writing that beast.
Notice the two seals' heads in the photo above.
Still, I tried to draw a bit on the experience I wrote about yesterday pertaining to running -- to trust to the foundation I've built over the years. In the case of writing, this meant trusting to process, remembering that as long as I keep reading and researching and thinking-through-writing, adding one tentative paragraph at a time, I will arrive at an argument that makes interesting sense and provides convincing evidence. And I think I might have got there today.
Much revision ahead, of course, but I have several days left for that, although my back is burning if I sit at the keyboard too long -- I suspect my back is my body's way of express my anxiety, but I'm not quite sure how my body might think that helps the situation.
I do feel that the last three years of blogging have loosened my writing voice, but apparently they have not inured me to the fears of exposing myself to a jury of my academic peers. Nor, apparently, have they cured me of my old habit of boring people silly by talking about these fears -- my poor husband went through this nonsense each time I had a paper due at the end of a course. Invariably, the paper would come back well-received, and I would, yet again, be surprised and gratified and relieved. I'm trying to remember that history, trying to trust in process, and, above all, trying to concentrate on the parts of research and writing that I do love, licking a new idea into being, whelp-like, squalling. . .
The books I've been reading as the base of my research have been fascinating, on the cultural history, theory, and phenomenology of skin, two works, especially: Claudia Benthien's Skin: On the Cultural Border Between Self and the World and Steven Connor's The Book of Skin. Probably too academic/arcane to appeal to every reader, but a wealth of interesting detail -- more information than you'd probably want on the portrayal of flaying in classical, medieval, and Renaissance imagery, for example, but fascinating stuff about a museum devoted to early dermatology I might try to suss out next trip to Paris.
Anyway, I thank you for your patience with my sunrises and my writing anxieties. Of the latter, while I'm wary of indulging my occupational woes too often, I'm also aware that I once promised myself to try for some sort of integrated self in this blog. For a variety of complex reasons, though, I tend to self-censor most of my academic life, for fear it will either bore or, I guess, dentify me as eitherbe (mis)interpreted as showing off or identify me as the nerd/bookworm I dreaded being recognized as through high school. So here's my effort to lift the curtain, briefly. . .

And although you're perhaps wearying of these sunrises, did you notice how each day's palette -- even if just in different ratios of the same hues and tones -- is different? I suspect if I dug a little, I'd find a message there about process and product . . . for now, I'll just enjoy . . .