Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Boomerang/Zombie/Indefatigably Persistent Article


I finally heard back from the 4.5-month R&R journal on Monday (the second day of our lovely beach vacation). There was no mention of what the reviewers thought of my extensive revisions. HOWEVER, there is now a THIRD reviewer, who recommends R&R with a whole DIFFERENT set of concerns!

OK, that's worse than it sounds. It is an R&R. It is promised to be the final R&R. And the concerns are primarily about clarity. To which I say, fair enough--although I haven't looked at my article since I sent it off in early April, I've been really struggling with and working through the ideas that it's developing, so lack of clarity is a real possibility.

On the bright side, Reviewer 3 appreciated my mastery of the secondary literature, much of which is in a language that I'm not very comfortable with and that I spent all of the spring semester slogging through. So that's something. In fact, I'm pretty pleased about that.

Initially, though, I wasn't pleased. I had that sinking feeling of rejection all afternoon, despaired of earning tenure, etc. Why does an R&R feel so crummy?

In this case, I'm also just out of patience with this dumb article (which isn't really dumb, I don't think, and which is the exploration piece for my second book, so I need it to be acceptable--and accepted). Here's it's history:

  • Spring/summer 2011: Article drafted.
  • August 2011: Submitted to Big Journal 1.
  • September 2011: Summarily rejected by Big Journal (BJ) 1.
  • January 2012: MLA talk given on radically revised version of argument.
  • January 2012-May 2013: Article completely ignored (by me).
  • May 2013: Acknowledgement (by me) that article is total crap, but that MLA essay had something going for it.
  • July 2013: Dramatically revised article (arguing the opposite position of its previous incarnation) sent to BJ 2.
  • January 2014: Query sent to BJ 2. Editor had misplaced submission. Editor sends it to a colleague, who reports that it isn't "sharp enough." BJ 2 rejection.
  • November 2014: Radically revised/rewritten article submitted to BJ 3.
  • February 2015: BJ 3 rejects article--accompanied, this time, by a thoughtful, detailed reader's report. Progress! But reviewer doesn't buy the argument.
  • Fall 2015: Article is now taking a totally different approach. Maybe 5% of original draft is still in there, mostly in the footnotes. Sent to writing group, who offers helpful advice.
  • December 2015: Submitted to BJ 4.
  • January 2016: First R&R from BJ 4.
  • January-April 2016: Agony, struggles, rewriting, etc. Resubmitted.

And here we are. Problems solved: The argument is no longer alienating my readers, and I have accounted for the secondary literature. All of it (or so it seems).

Soooo, tomorrow, I will print my essay and start the new revisions. I HAVE TO FINISH THIS F^%#@*$ER.


Anonymous said...

I have one of those. I'm working on footnotes so I can sent it out in its third incarnation.

Flavia said...

Totally hear you. I had one like that--went through four R&Rs (two of them major) and one flat reject before getting published. Definitely the most depressing and demoralizing publishing experience I've had, and the last R&R, for which I had the most focused and helpful suggestions, felt the absolute worst just because it had already been so long and because, as with you, it was the first big piece from Book Two.

But you can & will do this. And the final product will be awesome. Courage!

heu mihi said...

I realized belatedly that this is actually the FIFTH journal that it's been sent to. Siiiiigh. (Thanks for the encouragement, though.)

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