One of the joys of being an academic is the academic conference. It’s a great place to present papers and get feedback from a wide variety of people that you would probably not see otherwise. The problem is figuring out what you want to present by the time the submissions are due.
Since 2015, I have been attending the Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC) that is held at DragonCon every year. Since 2016, I have also been a presenter at the conference. CPAC is a great conference to present at because it is open to all at DragonCon to attend. So not only am I presenting to academics and scholars, but to fans and individuals who may not have thought they could be scholars as well. It’s great for getting feedback, especially in regards to accessibility of your work to the general public.
Just last week I had submitted papers to three conferences that are happening in the Spring. But, I forgot that CPAC’s deadline is next Friday. I was going “What am I going to present? I don’t have any idea what I’m going to write for classes next semester. I’ve submitted my paper for this class to a Spring conference. I don’t want to represent a paper, even if it is a different conference.” I was panicking. Then I remembered, I have a whole list of paper ideas I’ve come up with while working on the paper for class. When you have 8-10 pages, you need to focus. I am so glad I did that.
It’s a good habit to have as an academic and as a student. You’re never going to be able to fit everything into one paper. Keep track of the things you want to talk about, makes notes on them, make note of authors you’d use for that paper. You never know when it will come in handy!
Yesterday, I decided to start outlining for my final paper while at work. I had my 2-in-1 laptop, my sole laptop in the past year, to work on. It’s a great little machine. It’s 11″, small, lightweight, and also works as a nice tablet – especially now that it has a matte screen protector. But I’ve always had a bit of an issue when it comes to the keyboard.
I think it’s that I’m used to more traditional keyboards. The keyboard I have on my desktop is a mechanical keyboard. I had read that it’s better for your hands and wrists because you don’t have to push as hard on the keys for it to register. I guess I’ve been using it long enough that it’s affecting my typing. The keyboard on my 2-in-1 requires a little more pressure. But I don’t use the keyboard for much outside of logging in to websites, so it normally doesn’t pose a problem. Yesterday, it got annoying.
I was finding there were letters missing left and right, and in places where Word wasn’t catching them. I kept working because it was something to do while at work and I just couldn’t get into the book I need to have read for class this week. I decided to go ahead with a thought I’d been having for a bit. I still have my old laptop. It’s a 15″ and much heavier. But it has a full keyboard and keys that are more responsive to my typical typing.
I replaced it with the 2-in-one partially because of the weight, partially because of the problems with the hinge on the right side being broken. But mostly because I had gotten my desktop and didn’t need as much computer on-the-go anymore. The laptop had been my sole computer for a couple of years. But because of that size and power, I had been thinking of pulling it out and making it my portable writing desk. It also has a program or two still installed that make writing projects easier.
Last night, after getting home from work, I pulled out the laptop, plugged it in, and got working. Definitely the right move. I don’t worry about missing letters because I can feel the keys depressing and registering on the screen. But it’s been an adjustment going from an 11″ to a 15″. Everything on the screen is so much bigger (yay!!!). The keyboard is more responsive – as well as having the number keypad to the right (yay!!!).
I still love my 2-in-1. It’s going to be my everyday laptop. But, for larger writing projects away from the desktop, my 15″ laptop is going to be my go-to. Now I just need to do some research so I can get the parts to fix the hinge and be able to keep it working overall. New skills!
As you all know by now, I am trying to get my thesis off to a good start. It has been an exercise in trying to figure out how to write it. I have been reading books and graphic novels and taking notes and figuring out exactly what I’m looking at.
And I was making no on the page progress.
I wanted to have a rough draft of my first chapter done before Monday. Until today I didn’t think that would be possible. I felt like my break was wasted in that sense. But it really wasn’t. I needed to take a break from it and let my brain relax. I needed to remember that I am trying to get a rough draft done, not the final draft. Giving myself the permission to simply sit down and include everything I can think of has opened the floodgates.
Both yesterday and today I spent about 2 hours at Starbucks with coffee and Hamilton to add to the lack of distractions and help me focus. I have finally laid a solid foundation for me to build the rest of the draft off of. I think if I take the time to work on it tomorrow, and hopefully on Sunday, I will get close to if not have a flat out done draft by Monday. That is going to be a great way to start off the semester!
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Hamilton music. Like many others, I have The Hamilton Mixtape pre-ordered. It comes out on Friday, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has been releasing a track or two here and there over the past couple of weeks. We’re currently at 6 tracks released. And if you pre-ordered it, you get those tracks and pay that much less when the rest comes out.
It is amazing. Some of my favorite tracks are some of the more recently released ones. “Wrote My Way Out” is amazing. It’s got four different artists talking about their own experience and how they “wrote [their] way out” of their circumstances. It’s inspiring to listen to. Usher’s “Wait For It” is my other favorite, right now. I love the song to begin with, and his take is just beautiful. Seriously, just go listen to it now. It’s out there on Spotify. Go. Listen.
The whole thing is just amazing. “Satisfied” has multiple levels of awesomeness, including Queen Latifah. “Helpless” has Ashanti and Ja Rule, which is so beautiful. I feel like I cannot do it justice because I do not know these artists very much if it all. If you go on Twitter, people are fawning over this amazing music.
Today I tried something new. When I listen to Hamilton in the car, I find myself having moments of inspiration about my thesis. The two are nowhere near related. But I think it’s somehow either inspiring the scholarly side or I’ve listened to it often enough that it’s allowing me to zen out and freeing my mind to think about my thesis. So I decided to see if that’s the case of if somehow driving is a part of it. When you’re on a decent drive, it can be a very zen, freeing experience, mentally. I sat down with the laptop and decided to focus on one section of my thesis and write. I didn’t worry about citing or finding the information in books. Basically I was aiming to lay a solid foundation I can go back through and flesh out with the books and graphic novels and such later.
I wrote over two-thousand words this afternoon. And they’re really good words. I recently transferred that section over into Word and formatted it accordingly. I wrote almost eight full pages today. That’s without any citations or headings or anything. Just eight pages of words. It’s giving me hope that I can get at least a solid first draft done by the end of the semester to give to my committee to get feedback on. I think I could get a solid draft of the entire thing done over Winter Break when I have no teaching materials to prepare, reading to do for class, papers to write for class, or grading to do.
So, evidently Hamilton needs to be in my rotation for writing music. Who knew?
Earlier I wrote about how I’m approaching writing for my thesis (One-thousand words). I mentioned that Seanan McGuire, one of my favorite authors, posted about how she uses a d10 to track her writing. But I couldn’t find where.
I FOUND IT!
I have been asked to share my most important writing tool. Are you ready? Are you wary? Are you afraid it's a cornfield full of screams?
As a way to get me inspired to write more of my thesis this month, I have signed up to be a part of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a novel in a month, but I have seen others posting about using it to inspire them to work on their academic project. I am following in their footsteps.
The ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a minimum of 50,000 words in the month of November. Considering the inspriation I’m getting from my research, which has been inspired by just thinking and re-rereading the source material, I should be able to hit that point. Also, I’d love to have a solid first draft of the main chapters, not including the introduction and conclusion, before the end of the semester. 50,000 words would get me closer to that being a reality. I realize that would probably be enough words to create the rough draft, but I’m also thinking of editing.
So, I’m hoping to update here about once a week with how I’m doing. If you’re also participating, connect with me! I’d love to add buddies. Or just check out my profile and see how my word count is doing outside of my updates. I figure that the more people that know I am doing this, the more there are for me to hold myself accountable to.
Here’s to 50,000 more words by the end of the month!
I have never been good at managing time. I’m one of those people who has piles of projects everywhere. I know what is in which pile, but they’re everywhere. My problem is I look at all those piles and get overwhelmed. They’re all important piles. So nothing gets done.
But today I realized I have some built-in scheduling I can use. The one class I am currently taking is on Tuesday afternoons. We get done with plenty of time for me to get work done before heading to bed for the night. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it took me this long to realize that I should use that time to get work done for that class. It makes sense! We just spent 3 hours talking about the topic and all the various tangents related to it. After class is the perfect time to work on the final paper for it!
I guess the point of all of that is pay attention. The solution to your problem may be right in front of your face!
I have a few things that I use to remind me to keep going when I feel overwhelmed when trying to work on my thesis. I’ve got Wil Wheaton:
That has been really useful. I have to remember to give myself permission to sit down and simply write a bunch knowing there is going to be a lot of editing later. I also tell myself
The more I found out about Hamilton, the more I found myself reminding myself of this. I’m sure this is going to be my mantra when I’m working on my dissertation for my Ph.D.
But the best advice I’ve found that’s helped me immensely is from one of my favorite authors, Seanan McGuire. I can’t find the post now, but she posted, I thought on her Tumblr, about using a d10 to keep visual track of her writing. She would sit down and write 1000 words at a time. When she hit 1000, she would take a break and then go back to it. I’ve been using that. I’ll sit down and make myself write 1000 words at a go. I haven’t done it as often as I really should. But I did it tonight, and it feels so good!
I really should do it on a daily basis. Then again, it is Monday. Maybe this is the week I start writing 1000 words, minimum, a day. Hopefully it’ll get me motivated to get the basics down and then go back and start fleshing things out, editing, and getting a rough draft done. I keep freaking out over it and not doing anything. The better thing is to get something done that you can ask others, in my case my committee, for their opinions on. They can’t help you if you have nothing for them to look over!
I am blocked. I’ve been trying to do more work with the books I have, but I just…blocked. There’s no other word for it. I think part of it is that I have seven books waiting for me at the library, but I couldn’t get them today. Two or three are about The X-Men, which I have been looking for more information on.
That is the biggest challenge with this thesis. I am looking at a comic book that has been around for over 50 years. There are a lot of comics that I could look at. I know I need to look at more, but I don’t know which ones to look at. I’m hoping some of these books will give me some guidance.
I posted that quote last month (yes, I mean May. It’s June! ACK!) on one of my Tumblrs. I plan on framing it and putting it in my eyeline at my desk. It’s also my wallpaper on my laptop right now. I really need that inspiration right now.
I’m working on getting the thesis started. I’ve gone through all the X-Men books that I have. I’ve realized I may have to see if I can read a few others to get some more to work with. Then there’s all the theory and Deaf studies stuff to read.
But I’ve realized something else, this is going to involve a lot of writing. And what better way to hone one’s writing skills than by writing! So hopefully you’ll see more stuff on here over the summer. If I go quiet, hopefully it’ll be because I’m writing the thesis and can’t spare any words.
I’m hoping to have some good news soon. But now, I need to go get some food! I’m getting hungry fuzzy brain.