by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Writing”

Work, Work, Work

Posted 20 January 2009 in by Catriona

I’ve spent the day writing “cliche,” “fatuous,” “vague transition,” and the like on my own article (I’m much harder on myself than on my students, if anyone’s worrying about that. I’ve written “cliche” on students’ work before, but never “fatuous.”) and it has, oddly, put me out of the mood for updating the blog, especially since I’m only on page sixteen and it’s already after 6 p.m.

So, in the interim, here are some photographs of my dogs:

Well, technically, General Montgomery—the Elvis-fancying terrier of an earlier post—isn’t mine: my brother got him after our old dog, Scampy the Hell Hound, died, long after I moved out of home.

Petey the poodle is an old dog now, at least sixteen, and Monty only a youngster, but they’re both good boys, and Terry Pratchett tells us that that’s the highest praise we can give a dog.

Wondering Why I Haven't Been Blogging Much Lately?

Posted 16 January 2009 in by Catriona

And by lately, I mean in the last two days.

Well, admittedly, last night we just went out, which was terribly selfish of me, I know. But leaving that aside, this is essentially the reason:

Really, it shouldn’t be this hard. It certainly shouldn’t look like that. Considering this article comes from a thesis that I polished until it shone, and, in fact, comes from what was generally considered the best chapter of this thesis, the draft really shouldn’t look like that.

But, then, this is a steep learning curve. I’ve never before had to take a large piece of work (the chapter is some 17,000 words) which is itself part of a much larger piece (the overall thesis clocked in at over 90,000 words) and craft from it a much shorter piece (just over 7,000 words, at this point) that has its own complete and coherent argument.

I’m sure it will be fun.

Retrospectively.

But at the moment, it’s a little hairy. I was telling Nick the other day that I haven’t written this independently since I was an undergraduate: for both the Masters and the Ph.D., there were supervisors willing and able to keep an eye on my drafts. But here, despite supportive and thorough reports from readers and from the journal editor, I feel like I’m working independently.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t be quite so nervous if they hadn’t expressed a provisional interest in it already. Because now I’m worried—and worrying is my primary skill—that I might just be screwing it up instead of improving it.

So this is a small test for the blog.

I don’t have any intention of abandoning the blog, of course—but I started it a fortnight before I submitted the Ph.D., so this is the first time, really, that I’ve dealt with writing frantically all day and then coming here to write a post in the evening.

Still, there are always strange conversations, of course. And it’s the January Lifeline Bookfest tomorrow, so look forward to more pictures of my books. New books, this time.

In the interim, I’ll finish with a lithograph of Eliza Winstanley, the woman about whom I am writing for this article:

She doesn’t look as though she’d put up with any of this introspective nonsense.

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