In My Head: Shit, shit, shit. I thought I was almost done with this thing…
In the Cup: Water. Good old fashioned water. Soon to be replaced with wine. Good old fashioned wine. Probably Apothic Red, since I have two bottles handy.
Currently Playing: James Horner, Braveheart soundtrack. Because no matter what you think of him now, Mel Gibson killed that movie (in the good way, not the crazy, anti-semitic diatribing, woman-brutalizing way.) And besides, he didn’t write the music for the film, and James Horner is a genius.
Daily Run: 5 miles, 46:11, with a .3 miles walking cooldown after.
On the Desk: Edits for Hortulus; Female Biography Project Elizabeth I annotations
On the Nightstand: On Humor, by Simon Critchley; Mary Hays, “Elizabeth I” entry in FBP
BPAL of the Day: Glasgow. It’s an old vial that I actually can’t recall ever having tried. So far I’m ambivalent, but it could grow on me…
So, have you ever had one of those “oh, shit” moments where you suddenly realized something you were not enjoying very much but thought you were almost done with reveals itself actually to be nowhere near completed (largely due to your own negligence?)
Well, that’s where I am right now.
(Let me preface this with, I believe that this project is very important, and I am very proud of the work I have done for it, and it is a significant contribution to feminist scholarship in nineteenth century women writers — but it is also a colossal project, with literally hundreds of people involved, and like most such endeavors it’s gotten a bit messy over the years. And I don’t know anyone currently working with it who has not gotten annoyed, at the very least, with some aspect of this project, from undergraduate researchers all the way to the folks heading it up. So, I hope this comes across as my merely being (temporarily) frustrated and irritated, rather than simply complaining and being plain ticked off and soured; it’s definitely not intended as pejorative towards this thing or anyone working on it, just an honest statement of where I am right now with it.)
I’ve spent a good portion of my free time over the past three years ensconced in research on a number of the entries in Mary Hays’s 1803 Female Biography in Six Volumes in order to annotate and update them for a new edition coming out. It has been a largely thankless and monumental task (which I was anticipating) but also a largely frustrating and aggravating one as well (which I was not); I joined early in the process labeled as a researcher and selected a number of entries to work on, many of which were subsequently reassigned to other people as they joined the project — and after I had spent many hours researching and writing up annotations for them. In many cases, I was not even told that these entries had been re-assigned, so I was working on them simultaneously to other researchers and scholars (who were actually getting credit for that work) only to be told when I submitted completed sets of annotations (Oh, that’s someone else’s entry now…) As I said, frustrating. Eventually, we settled on a compromise: I was given six specific figures to work on and upgraded to scholar rather than researcher — which was totally fine with me. I completed the first five and sent them in for review… and waited.
And began my doctoral program
And THEN had them returned, with a week to turnaround on substantial edit requests. Which of course was NOT possible, and which I explained at that point was NOT possible; I needed at least two weeks for the edits, given my workload. Which was not received happily. Some on the staff wanted to just reassign my entries to someone else at that point, at which I balked and reminded them I had been working on this thing for three years, and told them that after everything I had been put through in the multiple re-assignations and changing of editorial hands, I felt that such a decision was grossly unfair; a belief that fortunately the project head agreed with. So, I got those edits done and in as quickly as possible, and then anticipated having December to work on the monumental Elizabeth I entry (over 200 pages) which is the largest portion of my workload on this project. I started working on Elizabeth over a year ago, going through the entry and marking all of the identifications that needed to be researched and annotated because the editors needed numbers to convince the publisher that we needed more annotation space than they were offering. I recorded 114 entries at that point, and spent a few weeks researching about two-thirds of those, before I was sidetracked with moving, the other entries being revised, and doctoral work, and it fell by the wayside — forgotten, but not gone.
Well, we received reminder emails last week about the deadline for volume 4 – which is not, as I had thought, January, but rather November 12. That was my first realization that the FBP fiasco was not yet over. Then, I opened the excel spreadsheet I’ve recorded the entries in last week to get back to work on it and realized, to my horror, that they only go to HALF the full entry. In other words, I have about 40 pages of identifications to research and write up over the next week, on a project I burned out on over a year ago and re-burned out on two months ago. And next week was already crazy-busy with individual conferences with my students and a ton of reading for classes, plus drafting papers and making sure I got to at least one peer’s work at Author Salon(and my daughter’s first Girl Scout meeting with her new troop). I had hoped it was a mistake; but I looked up my earlier correspondence on this entry from last year and it does, indeed, say: “Although I only have approximately half the identifications listed for the Elizabeth entry, they run to 114 in number at this point; hopefully that is enough to assure the publishers that they will need to devote more than 300 words to each annotations set, as that will not begin to cover everything I need to identify in this entry, and there are several other very long ones as well.”
If only I weren’t so invested in this thing and didn’t care about my academic integrity and didn’t want to finish this colossal thing I started and didn’t find it so interesting, however frustrating this whole project has been for me. But, alas, I’m in. One way or another, I’m seeing this thing through.
Again, I don’t want to sound as though I am complaining. I’m grateful for the chance to be involved in such an important, interdisciplinary feminist scholarship project, and I have enjoyed the actual work – just gotten frustrated and burned out with the logistics. Also, three years is a long time to devote to a project that really falls under your purview only insofar as you are researching figures from the era directly following your own area of specialization (I’m doing Early Modern English and Irish figures.) I have gotten a lot out of this work, and grown a great deal as a scholar and researcher through the process — but I really thought I was almost done, and so it’s a bit upsetting to find that (thanks only to myself!) I’ve so much more to go. And I just really hope they give me more than a week to get edits done this time – because there are probably going to be a lot more this time, and finals are looming.
Woe is me. It’s going to be a helluva week. Pass the coffee….