The joys of writing?

For the past two years I’ve been focusing on academic writing, both out of personal interest and also because it’s what hiring committees want to see in their applicants. I enjoy the process of reading widely, taking notes, reflecting on, and deeply interacting with the texts, and then organizing it all together into a new whole and presenting whatever you have or haven’t come up with based on all that you’ve learned. (I will also admit to enjoying gathering hard data and running statistical analyses on them, but don’t tell the other Drugstorers about that.) I find that side of the working world I inhabit very rewarding.

There is the other side though, the “publish or perish” side that says all of us fancy office inhabiting guys had better get something into an academic journal every year, and the more the better. This is especially important for the untenured (me!) as we have very little job stability and our best chance of getting anywhere in this crazy arena is through publications. Or so I’ve been told anyway. Your average journal only publishes three or four issues a year, and so you can imagine how intense the competition is to get space in one, particularly as the top journals will only accept 5-10% of the submissions they receive. And 10% would be quite high, by the way. It’s a demanding path to tread, and in my tentative steps down it so far I’ve had some successes and more failures. Strikes and gutters, as The Dude would say. What I find most difficult — or perhaps tedious is a better way to describe it — is doing the formatting each time you submit a piece somewhere. Every journal has their own preferred style of emphasizing text, punctuation, doing quotations, reference style, footnotes or endnotes, etc. etc. etc. It burns your eyes and bores holes in your brain going through the details as you lean over your keyboard and dissolve into your monitor.

All of you writers out there know what I’m talking about, even if you have nothing to do with the academic side of it. So why do we do it? Sure, some of us have jobs that necessitate it, but even if I didn’t I’d still write. And read like a nutter. That’s probably the rub of it right there: reading. We all want to be read, and for whatever reason we have for producing these strings of consonants and vowels, we want them to be appreciated by others — preferably strangers. There are two ways to go about doing that, as we are all well aware. You can write safely or you can write with a bit of risk. Safe side writers produce what they know people already like and stick with the tried and true, more or less, though usually with a personal tweak or unique flair. More risky writers, and I think that this is probably the larger group by far, write straight out of the holes in their heads because they have something they wish to communicate, regardless of possible reception. (But probably still secretly hoping to be loved!) In the former group you’ll find desperate Justin Bieber fanzine writers like Paul j Rogers. In the latter you’ll find broken down, lonely little nerds like…

Oh my.

Next week, Nick Cody on his new toilet apparatus.

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One Comment

  1. Paul j Rogers
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I really must find out who this Justin Beaver bloke is

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