Chapter 1 – Day 1: Finnegan, Begin Again

Hey bloggers! Long time, no post! It is strange to realize how dependent you can become on your blog. While I was off for these last few days, I realized that I have gotten really used to blogging. It feels like I was gone for a month. What started simply as a tool for helping me to feel accountable to myself and to the dissertation seems like it has become something else for me, a way of connecting and not feeling so isolated. And oddly enough, while I was off I missed all my old friends that I haven’t yet met. It is really rather revolutionary, if you think about it, the creation of community in this paradoxically impersonal/highly intimate global venue. And, AAGGGH I’m doing what I swore I’d never do — I’m blogging about blogging! Talk about navel lint. (As if the rest of my blog isn’t….) Sorry guys. It won’t happen again!

I had a great time with my best friend. We ate at all our favorite places, hung out, shopped, went to an outdoor concert with a picnic, and talked our ears off. It was wonderful, and a welcome break. (BTW, foodies — mixed berries topped with creme fraiche that has had 2-3 Tbs of brown sugar and 1 tsp Madagascar bourbon vanilla added is WONDERFUL). Then yesterday, I went to my new Slightly Shabby Chic office and spent most of the day painting the walls in an effort to make the Slightly Shabby slightly less shabby. I probably could have had someone else do it, but it feels good to nest there since I can’t really move in yet. It was also nice to remind myself before I started back on the diss exactly why it is I am doing this really hard thing.

Speaking of which, it is time to begin again. I was talking with Cleis yesterday and we were bemoaning the fact that every time you start to work on the dissertation, it always feels like you are starting the whole thing over AGAIN. That each step somehow always feels like the first one, no matter how much work you have under your belt or how big a stack of paper you have underneath your desk. I have full drafts of every chapter written, and now a more polished draft of the second chapter done, but yet I am still intimidated, overwhelmed, and just terrified to think about what I have to do for today.

I’ve been debating internally about which chapter to start working on next. I was thinking that I’d do Chapter 3, because it needs about as much work as Chapter 2 — that is to say, A LOT. But, a lot of the literature I was working with for Chapter 2 is pretty relevant for Chapter 1. AND, some of the stuff I cut from chapter 2, I may want to use in Chapter 1. So, I think that means I’m going to deal with 1, and leave 3 for later. Today, I think I’ll read through chapter 1, see what needs to go (A LOT) and what I can keep, and think about ways to integrate the other material. It is a chapter about how members of Congress who are amending the Constitution are intimidated about the process (sound familiar?) and use a familial metaphor and filial language to legitimate themselves as constitutional authors. Right now it is also about the relationship of the Constitution to slavery. I’m not entirely sure these two things really work together. They may need to be separate chapters. Anyway, that is the plan for today — to assess the state of things.

Also, I need to do a little more polishing on Chapter 2 — the main thing that I’m having trouble with is footnotes. I’d LOVE some advice about bibliographic software for the Mac if anyone has any. I have always used Endnote, and currently have version 6.0.2, but when I tried to generate a bibliography the other day, it just didn’t work. It crashed Word repeatedly. (I know, I know, Word is evil, but I started the thing in it and it seems risky to change now. As soon as I can I’m switching to iWork.) I downloaded the trial version of Endnote 8.0, but it didn’t actually seem to work either. And, I should mention, I HATE the new Endnote format. It is clearly designed for evil PCs and then just translated over for Mac. It seems clunky and just… ugly. Plus, I’m pissed that it wouldn’t work last week when I need it. So I’m doing a one woman pouty boycott of Endnote right now. I also have the trial version of Bookends, but I’m not sure it will do what I need. It is a bit of a dilemma. Like I said, any advice from The Wise Ones would be welcome!

So, off again, to begin again.

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5 responses to “Chapter 1 – Day 1: Finnegan, Begin Again

  1. Welcome Back! You were missed, but glad you got such a good break. With Chapter 2 under your belt, you know the routine. I predict you are on a roll……

    Oddly, my life if getting a begin again, of sorts. I got bumped out of my office space at other- odd- university, much to my shock yesterday. Then today it came to me, the new space I am going to is better for my needs and a move may push me to a new path (which I have mapped out but have been avoiding). I am too lazy to paint the new office though.

    Glad your inspiration is back on the net, available again for the rest of us hesitant ones.

    Cheers

  2. Glad u had a good break. I need to get back to work too, but I’m going to procrastinate with all of this unpacking I need to do. I haven’t seen the new Endnote, I was thinkin of getting the update too..hmmm..

  3. Hey S,
    You are so right… I keep thinking, “Am I done yet??” Just keep thinking about The Big Mo (momentum) and how you’ve got to be heading downhill from here.
    Histgrad
    p.s. My Civil Rights seminar is amazing… more about this soon.

  4. Hey, welcome back–and it seems like we’re in the same place, again: I too have just returned to Ch. 1 (my roughest, or at any rate least well-put-together chapter) for some revising!

    Looking forward to the long-distance, virtual-reality encouragment your blogging provides.
    LL

  5. I guess even when it is submitted, the dissertation still feels unfinished. At least I feel like this about my MA thesis. There are so many things that I could have done better….
    However, as Paul Erdös put it: the best problems fight back even stronger.

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