I’ve been in enough workshops to not worry too hard about how my writing represents me… for the most part. This Saturday I’m taking part in a different kind of workshop as part of the Rhetoric Society of America‘s conference’s Research Network. Three of us graduate students have been in contact with a rhetoric scholar for the past couple of months, and we’ve already been through one round of critiques. Last week, I submitted an updated draft based on some of their comments and we will be discussing those drafts in person at the conference.
And I can’t help feeling like I’m going to disappoint my group with my changes, mostly because I didn’t follow many of their suggestions. Their comments were primarily urging me towards further entrenching the theoretical portions of the essay, and when I sit down to write more on it, that’s just not the part I’m interested in. Which, ultimately, is a problem, given there’s not a whole lot of nonacademic venues for a piece that focuses on using Kenneth Burke for analysis. FORTUNATELY, rhetoric has some really awesome publications that are not quite as worried about the theoretics as traditional journals – Harlot is primarily what I’m thinking of, although both the KB Journal and Kairos are also significantly different in tone and expectations than somewhere like Rhetoric Society Quarterly. I love Harlot – the articles are so fun to read, but are also connected to the field in a meaningful way and illuminate something new with each piece. I plan on working hard and trying to make my piece work for Harlot, but I’m not sure if I can get the tone right. We’ll see.
Anyway, it’s hard not to feel bad about the whole thing. On a small note, I want to impress these people. The other students are PhD candidates, the professor is well-published and works for RSQ. More importantly, though, the comments I got from the first round of drafts were super excited about the possibilities of my paper and all the directions it could go in, and they offered examples of things for me to read and such. I did read them, but just wasn’t seeing it, and I know that’s okay. I’m also fairly sure that they’ll see I’ve done some work on it and still be excited for what I’m doing with it and respect my decisions and all that jazz, but … guilt.
No small part of the guilt is me feeling like I should already have read most of the stuff they were suggesting for me to connect my piece to, and the fact that the pieces I did read lead to me feeling like I needed to read even more, and so on, and so forth.
Also, being on the internet makes me more interested in how a master recording is translated to vibrations on a needle which carve grooves into lacquer. Bad for business.
If We Talked about Architecture like Writing… (My favorite – “This particular building really surprised me. I mean, I designed it, and I approved it, and I oversaw the construction of it, but it still really surprised me. My buildings are always surprising me.”)
And, finally, a note to graduate programs about job training (that could also easily carry over to undergrad programs that train primarily for grad school instead of jobs).