It’s easy to understand why so many academic blogs I find go for just a few entries and then stop. It is hard to read and assimilate information and talk at the same time. Especially if one follows the social model of blogging as a form of conversation. Blogging didn’t start out that way for me. It was mostly about clearing my head, and making connections between material and the world. I also have a creative urge that has lain fallow for many years now, and the blog was also a place to let those spontaneous outbursts out. This space has been neither a journal nor a public forum, but rather notes for imaginary conversations. Sometimes those conversations are actualized, because I have some great people reading me from time to time.

Lately I’ve had the urge to journal a bit more about my “process” to use the compositionist term. Just to remember, really, and remind myself that I will live through this. I’ve had some bad experiences with writing projects (well, sort of anyway). I had a major paper on Blake blow up on me and cost me my honors status as an undergrad. It was an organizational problem. Good ideas, deep research, totally incoherent result (this is not an uncommon problem with expositions on Blake). I was working with a mentor who was just too much like me. His suggestions were so parallel to my own thoughts that I had great resistance to shaping it into his paper rather than my own. That paper got to around 50 pages and stopped. Cold. Not to be visited again.

That can’t happen to me now. I have refrained from getting any feedback until I have the structural issues straight in my head. I hit a wall at around 22 pages into my first chapter. It had a structure, but it was a blog structure—sort of free association around similar though not identical ideas. However, after a couple of days came a big insight—there was a more coherent structure hiding in it, I just hadn’t seen it yet.

Now, I’m shaping the paper to that structure. Of course there are some hollow spots in my research that I’m fixing, trying to cram overviews of complex areas into my head. But I know I can make this work. The problem is, it’s all theory. I told myself I wasn’t going to do that. I wanted to write about words and pictures, not theories. But the theories are fascinating, damn it!

But I hope to get this together in the next week or so, in order to get the heart of the matter. Real books in the real world written by real authors who really wanted these books to do something other than “reinforce the patriarchy” or “perpetuate the class structure.”

My old slogan used to be “maybe partying will help” (Minutemen reference). But my body really won’t take that anymore. This time, I’m hoping that I can make blogging help. But the problem is that blog writing and essay construction are not even remotely the same thing.

*Addendum— I think this blog began as a way of Thinking in Public. I suspect it will stay precisely that.

1 thought on “Process”

  1. By virtue of form and design, blogs induce a compulsion to update content. That’s why there are so many blogs that simply reproduce and relay news content, and so many that reproduce the detailed minutae of someone’s daily existence. There is never lack of subject matter if you simply link the most recent piece of breaking news, or are keeping a tedious journal.
    Academic styles of writing presuppose critical reflection, and therefore have a longer form, which delays the update of content and does not jive well with this compulsion.
    As Nietzsche said, the thought comes when IT will, not when you will.
    On the other hand, the blog is the perfect vehicle for the prolific writer of aphorisms.

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