Thursday, October 24, 2013

Academic journal writing and post doc writing angst

Either i, or the article i struggle with are not made for a 7 day plan. Four days later and i have made progress, but not without huge angst.
The article has writhed and refused to settle.

I have undertaken further reading. Usefully.
I now have a better consideration for where this article is going.
It will not replicate the prior one.
It will not be the prior one with a variation on examples either.
Its evolved a little further, and its exploring through examples a little more detail if the therapeutic relationship as experienced by young people.
Retrospectively that is so easy to say. A week after i thought i had it mapped, i now know where it is going,
This is no paint by numbers but an organic process that until i have written, i have very little knowledge oof where it will go.

I suspect to think otherwise is to be quite seriously deluded.

I am now at 2000 words of a max 60000.

They are so much better structured though than when i was last near this point.

Seriously htough, this is a self torturing endeavour and I wonder where the joy of writing has gone.

I know the conference paper was fun. I also now that ifI had not made commitments I would have blown this particular article off.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1 day down; 6 to go. Publishing a paper on a 7 day plan.

That was a productive day; the map got written; the writing flowed.
Biggest hurdles were in finding examples not previously used, and in updating the background to NZ ers and their predilections for texting.
I learned an oddity along the way:
In 2011, the NZ Commerce Commission identified that NZers make phone calls versus sending texts at a ratio of 1:10
Youthline receiving calls actually sits at 12% when compared to the number of text messages they work with.
This suggests young people do actually make contact with YL by phone calls at a higher rate than they might use for their other interactions.

Hurdling is not my preferred past time.
Writing at this rate of knots still feels really time pressured.
I like that Gladwell describes to 10,000 hrs rule for practice to proficiency, it suggests the more I write the better i will become at it.
I live in hope.
Meantime I know that 10,000 hours of me jumping hurdles is never going to make me a hurdler....and that telling a goldfish to spend 10,000 hrs climbing trees will never result in that happening either...There is, of course, critique of Gladwell's assertion.
The difference might be i actually like the art of writing, of being so focussed, and of word-smithing...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In just 7 days: My muse returned and its time for another peer reviewed journal article

At least that's the goal.
However the intent does presuppose prior work; being on a post-doc writing scholarship I have a thesis to draw on.

After a month that needed some time out to graduate, and in which I also produced a conference paper, I'm back ontask.
Yesterday produced an abstract and the first 500 words of the article.
I also rewrote my own table to follow based on Thomson and Kamlers (2013) writing the abstract as a tinytext that provides the mindmap/roadmap for the article. It's here for anyone interested:

Todays goal: write the tiny text by midday.
The alternative would be my prior habit of writing me a river that meanders and has banks put in afterwards (afterwords) that would be really really time consuming and suffer from a plethora of messages as I attempt to address everything for the reader.

Opening those flood gates has me putting on some music...Louisianna 1927, Original by Randy Newman,
I prefer it sung by Marcia to muse by.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Finding my writing mojo; writing through writer's block

Ive tried to enter into this months task: one journal article per month.
Instead I wrote a conference paper. Ok. Then went to my own capping. Ok. And thenwas meant to start writing.
I have looked at the two abstracts i had scoped. they are OK.
And IVe not progressed them.

So whats going on?
Tired of writing? A possibility.
The last conference paper was exceptional fun: bilingual in txtspk and plain speak. And now the pedantic holds so much less interest. A possibility.
The paper to write for an international audience rather than the NZ journbal- written once, writing twice has lost its appeal. Its a formal starchy space.

So what have i done. Ive turned up for work to write. Ive allowed distractions.
Ive turned up to work again, and stared at it, toyed with it like a plate of broadbeans gone cold.
Ive revisited some chapters on writing.
Ive read some articles i could think to emulate.
Ive talked with cj. This was a good option.
I have spent today reading good writing; or at least the type of writing i would rather read.
I still have a niggle that this is procrastinating, however it feels a whole lot better than self flagellation.
I have a suspicion writing from a space of self flagellation is pretty ineffective.
Might as well try the more fun approach.
Today ive completed 6 pomodoros of reading. I finished a Gherardi article

Gherardi, Silvia. (2010). Telemedicine: A practice-based approach to technology. Human Relations, 63(4), 501-524. doi:10.1177/0018726709339096
on telemedicine- it structured an argument around things not totally intuitive and then analysed the data to the structure.

Ive also read some more accessible type of reading:
Cowen, Tyler. (2013). Average Is over: Powering America beyond the age of the great stagnation. New York, NY: Dutton Adult.
some good ideas about artificial intelligence through to Turing test, that could lend itself to fears of technology and working alongside technology, strengths identified in the hybrid relationship similar to Latour and Haraway

And am now reading Gladwell- though I started with a web page on what makes Gladwell such a good writer at
And the one idea thing is strong in this, take one idea and exemplify it through the storytelling. This is something i hope to work with.
Gladwell, M. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants (Kindle ed.): Penguin.
And there is scope for finding the number one idea , theres working with weak ties, the counterinutitive success made possible because of distant-presence, visibility counterpoised alongside visibility, being heard silently...

In between i also signed up fro #acwriMo, a writing commitment for November.
Did housework- fixed the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed.
And put out at least one workplace fire.

Now to keep reading Gladwell's David and Goliath, hoping to get my mojo back.

I just rechecked the writing scholarship and am feeling less troubled. My conference paper was identified on it as an outcome, so this wasnt a distraction after all.
And my goal which was accepted did not specify the dates of completion as per calendar month, hence my fear i wont have one done by months end may be a little premature. Will just settle in with the plan and keep trucking along.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Post Doc writing scholarship:3 articles/3 months

This is a midway point in my writing scholarship from Deakin University.
To recap: the scholarship was based on a propsal of three articles in three months, I had scoped some abstracts and identified appropriate journals for sending these to.
The first month, I rewrote the plan, and included a conference paper (published in proceedings as additional to the plan.
I met the first months deadline, albeit with some angst around (re)finding voice.
In the first week of the second month I wrote the conference paper.
In the second week i took a break for capping; I am now back.
And struggling.
Ive put on my favourite writing music (Norah Jones) hoping to find my muse.
Ive made an online commitment with a study/writing scholarship buddy, to Pomodoro the day away.
And Im following the Barbara Grant advice of writing about whats stopping me writing; also hoping to find my muse.
Wish the damn muse was less ethereal today.
skimming Howard Becker: "reading this book will not solve all your writing problems. It will hardly solve any of them. one can solve your problems. They are yours.

well aren't i the lucky one, eh?

Taking a turn then from ...Steven Brookfield... on academic imposter syndrome, i can at least try faking it till i make it.

I know whats stopping me. The task is like a mountain and i dont want to climb the hill, but there's a deadline.
I know that there's drudgery. Ive done the article i owed my participants and my site of study. And Ive done the conference paper that was fun. Now there's just chopping wood and drawing water to quote a Zen saying. Academic labour to quote Thompson and Kamler (2013)

There's an inkling of hope. I have yet to hand in anything dull. It might start that way, there's some formuleic processes i can work with.
I have a couple of abstracts to work up.
One bite at a time
Turn them into tiny texts, and let them latch on to me (hopefully, my energy will rise more in proximity to one or other of these) So its back to T&K and the tiny text road mapping to build up the abstracts as a road map and ensuring the movements of Swales "CARS" gets addressed in the article. (for more on CARS: )

Todays goal, relates to How to eat an elephant; one bite at a time. Today I need do no more than map the article.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The 7 day wonder; a paper completed

After two exceptionally late nights and also getting up today at 4.00 AM the paper is written.
I have only to print and edit, and then after duplicating it, try out some stylistic layout options.

No i did not stay up all hrs just trying to meet a self imposed deadline of the 7 day wonder of a paper write, the deadline for the conference paper was yesterday. I have an extension till monday but since i am catching a plane tomorrow, I need to send it today.

I am still unclear on the how to write a journal paper form this edition of a conference paper.
T&K's book writing for peer review does mention conference papers but pretty much only as a water test for the journal. They are also very direct in saying if your going to write a paper , write it as a journal article. It being easier to have that specific brief in mind...guess its easier to scale down to an audience than up???)

The conference paper is a bit exegesis, a bit avant-garde.
Next i may also be sourcing journals that are in to radical.
I also suspect the journal version could do with a bit more local contextual stuff about the use of text speak...then again if the stylistic stuff saves me more word count space, i may add some of that.

And I still need to make a decision what article to complete in the 3 weeks post the trip away.

I could live in hope that my having done this one inside the time i set, is that my writing is getting faster- or it could just be the lack of outside eyes on it...or the heavy deadline imposition...

Seems really working at a tinytext is good for me in clarifying where its got to go structurally.

Postscript; a lack of internet at the apartment meant the feedback on the paper from the symposium generated a day of working on it while overseas. Its looking good though, always wanted to do a split page as per Mol. Now i have one. Also the argument moved as i wrote, had an inkling of staying true to form and therefore justifying the txtspk, but during this a more persuasive argument than the aesthetic emerged. Looking forward to the feedback.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Writing a paper in 7 days; day 4

Day 1 instead of starting the writing, had me revisiting an abstract already accepted, writing another abstract for next months paper, and writing a writing plan and sharing it with my supervisor via google docs.

Day 2 seemed to be totally absorbed with recreating the tinytext- whereby an abstract provides the roadmap for an article,
it took 2 days, it took longer than it should have; it was unbalanced.
The structure Thompson and Kamler suggest of "Locate, focus +- anchor, report and argue"
I had a huge front end locating the research; establishing its territory.
Perhaps this shouldn't seem so odd, what i am writing is quite odd and requires significant justifying.
The focus though was almost absent. I was pretty much all over the show:
- was this about the data in my thesis and how it got to on of my many conclusions (young people being maligned because of their use of text)
- was this about the article being written, a performative turn in txt spk
And decided the focus was really about collateral damage; collateral damage whereby 'we' continue to perpetuate discrimination by not allowing other voice (txtspk) to be heard. Hence the new reading required as my thesis had not addressed issues of identity and oppression and language in this way.
The anchor (not always essential unless entering into specific discourse/s) has me address this calling principally on actor-network theory (ANT), (John Law and collateral realities) and 'the performative turn' in ANT, but Ive been having to do more reading (Judith Butler identity formation and excitable speech, and others such as Linda Tuhawai Smith and Kumashiro regarding decolonization and oppression)
But I'm really not feeling strong enough or well enough read in those areas to do more than point to the fields and say this sits alongside.
The reporting has involved pointing to how txt language gets positioned, and how it then positions those who use it. Being performative, the paper then becomes its own report...a demonstration of text speak used to talk of the non trivial.
The argument becomes one of challenging what is 'othered'' and our own 'othering'.

However it also took a while because I was rewriting the abstract , both in English and in text spk.
Oddly i found myself recrafting the language, nuanced to NZ txt spk- yes it appears to be different to what provides :)
And also oddly, while i word craft my english for look,canter, syntax, prose... and i found myself altering the txt spk differently - they are not identical, word by word translations differ! The look on the page makes me choose different words. And txt word choices also differ. No one writes "unnecessary" when texting; the words chosen tend to be simpler- its "not needed".
Then having a minor meltdown of how would i ever achieve the writing goal for the month.
Telling myself intellectually that last month would have been impossible if i had seen what wss coming, so this month- knowing what was coming- must be a bonus!
I then went through my calendar cancelling everything i could.
And set up my email autoreplies so i didnt have to feel bad about turning people down- upfront stating i would be writing october- november so unless a repeat email with urgent in the title line..." . Not being a speaker of foreign languages i never quite understood how word for word translations never really work, nonetheless this surprised me and was probably wasting time.
But for getting the tinytext sorted, the abstract needs to be sorted, and this made for a bit of a time absorbing black hole.

Then there is my artistic concern for what comes first, an English or txt spk version...
Still not totally sure, could be all in one version then the other, but which comes first...or could be an abstract then a txt abstract then article then translated article etc etc... and ideally it would be written in 160 character bites , the size of SMS...but at present I am just staying with paragraphed prose.

It is taking a while because this paper is less about 'reporting' but is a not sure if T&K's writing for peer review journals lends itself to this so readily.Plus i might be trying to do too much- write it for a journal and for a may be that this is something that suits conference (due date is 2 days away for submission) versus the journal article (scholarship condition- end of the month).
How to do both had me twittering with Pat Thompson (a very generous woman) and going back to their book- another section i skimmed but pages 170 is about this - in bold..."Never write a conference paper, always write a draft of the article that will be submitted for publication". Still think more was needed on this regarding how conference papers can be drafted and how they actually are nuanced differently...

Day 3 converting the already large introduction, locating this paper in a literature, finding its niche, posing the issue... into the first couple of pages of the article. This morphed (segued nicely) into the focus of collateral realities...

Day 4 collateral realities and doing difference differently...

So thats the content stuff above; meantime there's process stuff below:
Cant sleep, its 5.00AM, so Im up blogging about my writing, and reading the pages from T&K's book re conference paper vs article...
Am feeling anxious still about the months goal= 1 conference paper and one journal article.
Then having a minor meltdown of how would i ever achieve the writing goal for the month.
Telling myself intellectually that last month would have been impossible if i had seen what ws coming, so this month- knowing what was coming must be a bonus!
I then went through my calendar canceling everything i could.
And set up my email autoreplies so i didn't have to feel bad about turning people down- upfront stating i would be writing october- november so unless a repeat email with urgent in the title line...or unless i want to look, i wont be responding...

At the end of the month though I will be doing a writing retreat with a friend...wondering if beginning of month are better for these as its getting the stuff sorted that would reduce anxiety better.
Then again, last month started with a writing retreat weekend, and a week later a further 4 days of retreat. But it was the end of the month with seriously rewriting the paper that felt frantic.
Really wishing my writing could be efficient hence the intention of 'the plan',
as next week Im off- time to get capped for the phd which means a short sojourn in Melbourne :)