This had been a distracted year, but I finally abandoned (read: submitted) a chapter I’ve been (not) working on for about two years.
It has its origins in a conference paper and a lay version of that which followed, but I’d cut the references and aparatus to avoid over crowding a PowerPoint and then a non-academic publication.
You’d think there’d be a version with all those references, wouldn’t you? Think again.
This version needed to be longer, about three times longer, and it needed to discuss and on some level connect a further book and film. I’ve not read the book in twenty years, nor seen the film for probably as long. Possibly not since it came out.
Cut to: Hotel room, Dublin: Academic watches a widescreen film on a small video player that nearly got him interrogated at customs.
Montage: copy of book being put in various bags and carried to towns around the south east, occasionally being placed on a table next to a black Americano in a cafe whilst he reads his phone.
Cut to: academic rewatches DVD in home office.
Curiously, marking essays, writing lectures and reading PhDs all seemed to take precedence. Those acres of free time during lockdown never seem to materialise.
But I know how I work, and so I know that at some point I will just type. In fact, it was only the realisation that I was going to start doing the reading for something which ought to be two or three projects down the line that I finally shackled myself to a keyboard.
And whilst there had been some minimal typing already, I wrote several thousand words. These travelled to work and were printed out and scribbled on. Corrections were incorporated. I messed with the style guide. Printed out, scribbled, printed out, scribbled. Moved a couple more sentences. Added a couple of fragments that ought to make the piece sing…
And so, at last, the chapter is abandoned, or at least passed onto an editor. And we will see.