Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Revision, again

I made a slew of revisions to the liturgy article today, based on comments from a helpful reader. (Thanks!) I hope this will clarify the argument considerably and also explain the specialized vocabulary better. Unfortunately it has probably also gotten longer. 

Helpful Reader also returned comments on the patronage piece, which I haven't gotten to yet, and remarked that it seemed more mature. I found this curious, since the patronage piece was dashed off in a shortish period of time--no more than six weeks, I'd guess, and probably less--before a conference, whereas I've been laboring over the liturgy article for much longer.  On and off for two years, in fact.

It's occurred to me that perhaps that on-and-off process has not helped that particular paper. In revising it I've had to cut repetition regularly, probably due to writing sections at different times. I've had to make the argument come through more clearly, perhaps because I've grown too close to it and have more trouble expressing it clearly.  Perhaps I need to try harder to finish a piece of writing in a short period of time, rather than writing one section, coming back a few months later and writing another, etc.

Readers, feel free to chime in: how to you do your most effective writing? Do you try to finish a draft as quickly as possible, or come back and add to it at intervals, or something else?

1 comment:

tenthmedieval said...

I would say definitely try and write quickly. Otherwise you lose focus, and if you're still reading meanwhile, your views may well have changed between beginning of process and end. I have a triplet of dinosaur papers which have been being revised almost as long as I've been studying Catalonia, and they've all been submitted places at various times and come back either unwanted or in need of heavy revisions. To be honest, at least one needs just scrapping, and another rewriting from the ground up as a fresh argument. The third, you've just seen the core of on my blog and is still probably OK. But I should have two things coming out this year, and they were both written in a hurry from too little material and then I went and made sure I could support them afterwards. I wouldn't recommend that for scholarly integrity, but for me at least it produces better papers to write as quickly as I can and then check it. You do have to know what you think, of course, so I would say that one should spend as much time as one can on planning and explaining the point to any willing audience, and then as little time as possible on writing. But it's so personal: I get bogged down in detail very easily so that method escapes some of my weaknesses, others may find that that produces trivial pap and that coming back to something over weeks makes it much more solid. But, over years? No. Finish it or bin it, or, in your case, don't get into that situation...