I've been absent from blogging for a couple of weeks now, because I've been wrestling with a conference paper, and I'm always hesitant to blog about such things, which are often less interesting. After all, all academics have to write these papers, and the fact that some go less smoothly than others is hardly blog-worthy. But I've finally decided that my experience with this paper is paradigmatic of a larger struggle: getting going on a new project.
It looks like the book is going to be out next spring, which means that it will see the light about 11 years after I began working on it in earnest, as a dissertation. during about 8 of those 11 years, I was able to peel of parts to present at conferences. The first ones were document-driven, rather than argument-driven, and I felt that I was fumbling around for a point to these papers. But by the end of that time, I felt pretty confident about what the larger message was, and how to frame a smaller part of that message in 10 pages or so.
And what's my reward for finishing a big ol' book? That's right: I get to fumble around again, and wonder if my paper makes any sense, and wonder if my audience will be able to tell that at this beginning stage, I don't really know what my argument is. What I've got instead is a bunch of vaguely interesting documents that I'm imposing a place-holder argument on while waiting for the real pattern to emerge.
So, here we go. I'm confronting my own ignorance again. And desperately hoping not to make an ass of myself.