Today was not a good dissertation day.
I sat down. I got up to brew a fresh cup of coffee. I sat down. I read a few paragraphs of James Sully’s Studies of Childhood. I got up to play with the cat until she was exhausted so she would leave me alone and stop the ceaseless meowing already. I sat down. I highlighted a few things that looked important. I got up and paced the room until I decided I needed to go to campus to return my office key right now.
You get the idea. I wasn’t exactly a model of focus.
But then! When I went to campus I discovered that the Dickens Studies Annual had sent my contributor’s copy of the 2009 volume to my campus mailbox.
I immediately ripped open the box to behold my name in print. Woohoo! I officially have a publication. (I perhaps shouldn’t engage in such blatant and shameless self promotion, posting a picture of the article, but as a graduate student hungry for a publication for my CV, I feel this act of ego should be forgiven.)
And in any case, celebration is certainly in order, because this has been a long time coming. I found out that this article was accepted for print over a year ago. Dickens Studies Annual obviously is brought out only once a year, so the already substantial lag time of an academic journal was exaggerated by this particular journal’s infrequent publication schedule. I have triumphantly erased the “forthcoming” that was haunting this publication on my CV, and I never have to edit this particular piece of writing again! I know that it takes exponentially longer to get a book through press than an article, and I can only imagine the hair-pulling my faculty and colleagues engage in waiting for the blessed day when HUZZAH! IT IS DONE!
Strangely, I also had a moment of panic when I opened the box from the AMS Press. This piece of scholarship is now accessible, it’s available for others to see. This could be bad. What if I made some embarrassing Dickens gaffe that is now — woe! — beyond the point of revision? I was also momentarily nonplussed by how very short my bio was compared to the lengthier descriptions of other contributors.
But really, I think this arrived at precisely the right time. It reminds me that every project I undertake as a scholar will be horrible and messy in the beginning — and probably in the middle, too — before it is neat and accepted somewhere for publication. Really, then, I shouldn’t panic at the chaos of stickie notes poking in all directions out of my copy of Lear’s nonsense. And I shouldn’t worry that my rough-rough-rough outline of my current dissertation chapter is criss-crossed with arrows, spotted with asterisks, indicating that I have NO IDEA what I am talking about or the order in which it should be discussed. Because it’s all process, and all of this disarray will one day be hidden, invisible labor hidden by smooth, clean pages.
For now — I am toasting to dolls and Dickens with blueberry pancakes and wine.