Revising and resubmitting

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, I must say. Some very high highs and some very low lows. Not one to focus on the negative, I will share some of the highlights.

– I nailed down a spot to volunteer in the kitchen at a really nifty local music festival on a magical island. I can share my knowledge of cooking for a crowd, and feed many amazing musicians over the course of 3 days.

– I went on a most epic hike up to and along the High Divide, a little-traveled pass at the top of the North Cascades. It took 3 miles of 3500 feet of elevation gain to get there, but man oh man, was it worth it. We ate lunch staring out at Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, two of the loveliest mountains I’ve seen. Hiking down 2 miles of 2500+ feet (aka, a 2-mile long squat), has left me pretty tired for days.

– So many friends have been visiting or in town! College friends, college professors, and many new friends, to boot! Our house has had people coming and going, coming and going, for well over a week now. It keeps it feeling alive.

– And, last but not least, my first journal article was accepted with minor revision! Yippee!

Which leads me to: revision! You rascal, you’re so surprisingly tricky! Even though the reviews of my manuscript were all-in-all quite positive (no one batting me down, tearing my argument to pieces, telling me I don’t know how to write…), it was still surprisingly hard to incorporate comments. My thinking has evolved so much since I wrote this piece, even though it’s only been a few months. Mainly, it’s because the piece draws on work that is a year old.

I imagine this is a common thing I will run into in academic writing: how do you write about old work and stay true to where the argument came from, even during revision? For instance, I’ve been doing all of this reading on empowerment. And while the article talks about empowerment, it is not a critique of empowerment per se. It is a critique of nonprofits and poverty governance structures. It has been hard to edit my empowerment brain and keep it out of this piece for now. No need to muddy an already complex argument. I’ll save the empowerment critique for a paper I’m writing with one of my colleagues.

Interestingly, though, once I just started putting everything on paper and incorporating everything, it made it easier to edit. The editor requested a version with ‘tracked changes’, which made the whole piece very overwhelming to work on and edit-as-I-go. So, after responding to all of the suggestions as best I could, I went section by section, editing back down to cohesive arguments, being aware of word limit and over-citing.

And now it’s off to people I trust to give me feedback! That’s a fun part: look at the original, look at the reviewer’s suggestions, look at the revised manuscript — like a puzzle! Does it fit together? Did I solve it?

However, this also means that it is back to the genealogy soon. I have friends in town the next few days, then a getaway to the San Juan Islands for one night, and then it’s off to the music festival, and shortly after that, Peru! Not a lot of time to get work done. But enough time to keep collecting books, figure out a plan for the year, start to look for grant sources, think about putting together a syllabus for a new class, organize the fall colloquium series, keep planning Eat for Equity events, and, you know, cook, exercise, sleep, read, see friends and family — all that good stuff.

A goal for the next few work days: prioritize 3 books to get a good handle on. One from each ‘genre’ of empowerment literature. Skim these, take notes, summarize. Start to think about a gap. Start to practice recitation by reading these against relational poverty studies. I think that is my task, really. Not to apply relational poverty studies things after the fact, but to read it into the work I’m doing right now. In fact, this will be incredibly helpful for a paper I’ve been scheming with a colleague, that will look at ‘relational empowerment’ – how the term has been used, and what critical GIS / feminist geography / relational poverty studies can bring to that term. Pretty neat!

Closing thought: I’ve been reading a lot of academic blogs this week. On how to be a better ‘whole-person’ academic, on the importance of respect in the female academic blogosphere, and in general, on how to get your voice out into the world. I’ve also been doing some blogging for non-academic sources. I think it is probably time for me to start cultivating this a bit more intentionally. Get my ideas out there. Get people to read this blog. Start a twitter account. Follow people who inspire me intellectually. Post what I’m reading. Link to donor activism and social justice work. Connect the multiple branches of my public/academic/social life in a way that I’ve been resisting for a while. Either way, I gotta keep reading these other fine folks. They certainly add a level of inspiration that can be hard to find while sitting alone at one’s desk, readin’, writin’ and pontificatin’.

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