Monday, January 24, 2005

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I am wracked with uncertainty. Tomorrow I meet with my Note & Comment Editor and with the Senior Note & Comment Editor to go over the first submission of my comment. I think that substantively the piece turned out pretty well, but I am nervous about the fact that I just squeaked in over the minimum desired length and that I was short of the desired number of footnotes. As it happened, I had to almost completely start over about 10-12 days ahead of the deadline, because I realized my original thesis, introduction, and first section were flawed because of a logical fallacy in my argument. At first, I thought I could circumnavigate the logical fallacy and make my argument, but around 12/30 I realized that all my work to that point was a house of cards -- structurally unsound. So I went back to the drawing board. I finished the first draft about eight hours ahead of the deadline, but I could have used another week to polish and expand it so that I more easily made the minimum requirements.

On one hand, I resent the minimum requirements because it seems slightly arbitrary to select a certain number of footnotes as a benchmark for whether the piece is well-researched. In my case, the last 12 pages (or so) were composed of a series of policy prescriptions which I adapted or devised. As such, they were not drawn from any source of authority, and were largely un-footnoted.

On the other hand, I see the need for the requirements; when one has the responsibility to go over 30 or so 40-60 page manuscripts in just a couple weeks, benchmarks like page limits and footnotes would seem to be a useful gauge for the work that went into generating the content. Also, in the absence of such measures, those of us who have never written a piece of this length or complexity might feel anxiety about whether we had done sufficient work.

That doesn't assuage the anxiety or the crippling ambivalence I feel right now. I know, I know.


I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


Blogger Me said...

I'm sure that the editor will love it!! (I'm a neurotic mess waiting for my review.) ;-) But I agree with you - when you are postulating theories, they may not have citations. We didn't have citations limits, but we had a page limit.

7:59 PM  

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