Monday, April 27, 2015


I'm very excited about Kalamazoo this year. I normally can't go because it conflicts with our graduation, which I have to attend--but I'm on sabbatical! It's such a fun conference. And also, I'm going alone, which means four days (and nights) of no childcare. Much as I adore my child.

I've got my paper down to about 10 pages, which is great--but I'm on a four-person panel. How I'm going to cut another two pages out of this mess, I don't know. Because apparently I need to talk about four different texts in 15 minutes. Because apparently that's what I've decided to do.

I'd so much rather have to make something longer than to make it shorter. Isn't that the difference, really, between faculty and undergraduates?


Flavia said...

I hope not!

I'm a cutter. I find nothing in the world easier than cutting--I can cut a 60-page chapter down to a 10-page conference paper, no sweat--but I'm always terrified of falling short or not making length.

(In the end, it isn't a problem, but I expand very, very slowly, and usually while simultaneously cutting. It's easy for me to see what's repetitive and extraneous; much harder to see what someone who isn't me might need more of. I think there are just two different personalities when it comes to writing...)

Fretful Porpentine said...

I must be an undergraduate, then, because right now I have about one page's worth of Kalamazoo paper, and I have no idea how on earth I'm going to get it up to a respectable length, at least not WHILE getting all of the end-of-semester grading done. Maybe we should swap panels so you can be on one with three people?

heu mihi said...

All right, I guess my off-the-cuff distinction doesn't hold! I'm very good at adding words that SEEM important; cutting is good for me, because many, many of those words can go.

This is evident even in my paper prompts--I have to edit them down to a reasonable number of paragraphs (down from multiple pages, often).

And I should note, too, that my conference paper is being boiled down from a 16,000-word chapter, so there's plenty of material there. (A chapter that should probably be more in the 10,000-word range, really.)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Aha, I think we might be looking at a fundamental difference in writing styles, then. For me, the conference paper is always the starting point; it might grow into an article or chapter eventually, but I've never edited down from one. (In fact, I pretty much wrote my dissertation as a series of conference papers, because I'm not much good at writing anything without that artificially imposed deadline ... on second thought, yeah, I totally am an undergraduate.)

Flavia said...

Yeah, different writing styles for sure! Whenever I hear people talking about how easy it is to sit down and pound out 70 pages--but how haaaaard it is to edit that into something reasonable, I'm like: you are not the same species of human that I am.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I had *exactly* the same problem! I managed to cut mine down to 8 pp, but it's still gonna be 17 minutes.

I comfort myself by thinking that surely some blowhard will go on for 25, since the PANEL ORGANIZER STILL HASN'T BOTHERED TO TELL US TO MAKE THE PAPERS 15 MINUTES RATHER THAN 20. Yep: I had to ask.

Also: they're all men except me.

heu mihi said...

Flavia--I'm not saying my long writing is *good*. I just read your Boredom post, and that describes so much of my writing process. Basically, I need to not reread my drafts while I'm writing them if I'm going to persevere (and not despise myself).

And Notorious--my panel organizer hasn't either! She seems pretty excellent otherwise, though, so I'm not going to hold it against her. (And she *did* email all of us a group acceptance as well as individual ones, so, if I'd bothered to register the fact that there were four of us then, I wouldn't have put myself into this little pickle. Or, well, I would've been in the pickle earlier and it wouldn't have felt so picklish.)