Thursday, February 28, 2008


Tomorrow is the last day of February and I've said that this time, THIS TIME, I'm going to have this chapter draft done by the end of the month.

I lied.

But I am thisclose to having it done. It's messy and ugly and quite possibly the worst thing I've ever written, but it's close to at least being a completed mess. I'm at about 14,000 words and I still need to write the section about challenges to traditional notions of persuasion and might need a section on a pedagogy of rhetorical listening and I need to wrap up the rhetorical listening in the classroom section, but I feel like, at least for today, I'm at the end of my abilities.

We have friends coming into town tonight so my weekend is probably a lost cause. I only see them 2-3 times a year, at best, so I'm not willing to sacrifice my time with them for writing. But I think, I THINK, I can have this chapter done by mid week next week. It's possible that I could keep writing this afternoon, but my back hurts something fierce and there are dishes to be done.

So I give up. At least for now. But I wrote 6 pages today and that's something to celebrate.

Friday, February 22, 2008


This has been an up and down week for me-- but I wanted to talk about how excited I am about some of the progress I've made this week. I'm actually working on a presentation that I'll be giving at the school where I got my MA (they asked me to come back and be a part of their annual grad student symposium). This has conveniently coincided with the completion of my data collection. I've been looking through the data and looking for themes and I'm finding some worthwhile things to talk about. It's fun!

Just a quick hooray

I just wanted to post a quick HOORAY for DBC. I got up (late) this morning and thought, "Maybe I'll just stay home this morning. I could do dishes, watch that two hour Supernatural I recorded. I have to go in later this afternoon to watch a presentation, but I could just stay here until then. It's cold out and snowing and nice and warm in here." Then I read Billie's most recent post and was reminded to go put my butt in a more productive chair -- one at the library. So I will. So hooray for DBC and for Billie for reminding me to at least TRY to be productive whenever I have the time and energy.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

February (mid month progress)

Hi, all-- Following Abby's lead..... I've made some progress this month. I've rewritten/revised the methodology chapter and I am **this close** to being done with the case study chapter. Next up is the literature review. I have asked someone to read the case study chapter-- and he always offers such good feedback-- but I just haven't gotten it done yet. But really. I'm **this close.** I'm hoping to send it out on Saturday.

But that brings me to something I've been thinking about lately: apologizing to all dissertation writers everywhere.

Let me explain: Over the past few years, I have read some really awful dissertations, and these are in my (our) discipline. Just awful. They are short and underdeveloped. Riddled with typos. Simplistic. Just awful for something that is suppose to add original knowledge to the field, to contribute to the profession. Some of the dissertations I've read? Not even close.

However, writing is a dissertation is so hard. Really. I'm finding it exhausting and sometimes demoralizing and infantalizing. I think to myself, "if I didn't have to work full time," "if I wasn't teaching so much," "if only....." then, I could get the diss done and it'd be a significant contribution, and I'd get a job, and make millions, and write books, and live happily ever after.

But those dissertations I scoffed at? They might have been weak or not carefully proofread or whatever, but they are done. A committee of graduate professors let them through. Those writers actually kept their butts in seats (to borrow Abby's phrase) and they got the work done. They are now Ph.D.s somewhere..... So, to all of those disses I dissed: I'm sorry. I didn't understand.

But tomorrow? I will keep my butt in the seat and I'll get that case study finished. I will.

A bit of progress

This is just to say that I wrote four pages yesterday and 3 and a half today. They're not quality, but right now I'm shooting for quantity. Quality will be the goal for the revision. As I've said many times before and recommitted to again, I plan to have this chapter done by the end of the month. I really mean it this time. I'm relatively close -- within 15 pages I think -- so it seems possible. As long as I keep getting my butt to the grad carrels in the library, I should be able to make it happen.

Then it's on to my chapter on embodied rhetoric, for which I have more reading to do. That's the rhetorical theory on which there's the most written, and while I've read a good chunk of what I need to, I keep coming across more sources. So I'm planning to finish this chapter and set it aside, then read for a few weeks and then write like a crazy person. Then it's revision, revision, revision, and, of course, more revision.

How're all of you doing?

Friday, February 15, 2008


In case you haven't cruised past Abby's blog lately, I wanted to make sure everyone knew that Abby has accepted a job at Kansas State. It was her first choice, and I know she's really excited about it.

Yay Abby!

At last!

Just a quick update-- I have finally finished with all of my data collection. I ran two discussion sessions today, and that takes care of it. The discussions brought out a lot of really juicy info, so I'm looking forward to getting down to work with it.

If only I could avoid transcribing. If anyone wants to come over and transcribe 6 hours of group conversation, I will gladly compensate by warming up a high-end frozen pizza.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


It's been quite a while, so I thought I'd poke my head in for a lil update.

Right now I'm still collecting data for my ethnographic study of literacy practices of student-athletes. My subjects are still in the midst of their season and are stretched for time, so data collection has been slow since xmas. I've also had to make some adjustments to the original study design because of issues of access to my subjects. This part has been both frustrating and interesting.

Since the data collection is in something of a lull, I've been trying to read and write towards a diss chapter. Right now I'm going through some of the theoretical texts that are foundational to my working theory of literacy education, development and research. I haven't been cross-posting my current series on Pierre Bourdieu and Literacy as Activity, but if you want to check it out here's Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Right now it's not that important whether these series add up to actual chapters. They're useful, if for nothing else, in practicing articulating the thoughts I'm having and practicing talking about my (REALLY raw) data.

So that's what I'm up to, folks.
The data collection officially ends in May. Then I'll start with the grueling tasks of interpreting and making sense of it all. Though it will no doubt be tedious, I'll be thrilled to actually reach this stage of production!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Each Wednesday this semester is my "writing day." I've been using incentives to keep my butt glued to the chair so I can get writing done on those days. So far, it's been working. If I work long enough (timewise) or write enough (length wise), I treat myself to an outing where I can take photographs. I've been to the Japanese Gardens, the Zoo, a park . . . natural type places that soothe me in weird ways. This morning, I'm settled down to write, and this afternoon, I'm heading to a basketball game where I can -- you know -- take more pictures. The incentives keep me motivated to produce something.

What motivates you? What incentives do you use?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February Goals

I can't believe the number of times I've said this but I really really mean it this time: I will have a draft of my Rhetorical Listening chapter done by the end of February. That's right y'all: a drafty draft of Chapter 3 will be done by the end of this month.

Now I just have to kick this cold, which I will, and soon. And then it is all grad carrels all the time. Time to get back on that dissertation horse. Boot camp? that's exactly what I need. Somebody to kick my behind into high gear.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February Goals (January Goals met)

Hi, all-- I followed the Jerry Seinfeld method of productivity, and it worked. At least for January. I kept a calendar on the wall above my desk at home, and each that I worked on the dissertation, I placed a big "X" on that calendar square. I'm not exactly sure why Thursdays were not such good days for me, but now that I see it on a calendar, I can be more cognizant of those days. Overall, I think this wasn't bad progress. I worked almost everyday (save Thursdays), and I did this through a sprained knee and the flu. Oh, and the beginning of the spring semester. Not too shabby.

Since I'm such a nonlinear writer, sitting down at the keyboard and stating that I will produce 1,000 words before I get up .... well, that's hard for me. I have used the kneading dough analogy before.... I wrote some, then I go back to another section and knead that, then knead another section, then come back to that part I just wrote and start that kneading process .... so coming up with that word count is hard, but I can do a page count (OK, sort of. I can sort of do a page count.) Right now I have five of the eight chapters drafted ... some more drafty than others, but drafted nonetheless. As I work on one, I go back to another and tweak. I'm sure my process would drive anyone else crazy.... as it does me that way most of the time. But eventually, it gets done, and I like the end result.

But my goal for February is to write everyday... and if I can't actually sit at the keyboard and produce words, I'll do some research, I'll work on my EndNote references, I'll do something diss related. However, I will send the case study chapter to my advisor by the end of next week (it's over a 100 pages long and I'm sick of it -- not the subjects -- but sick of the chapter). I will complete the lit review by the end of February.

Lastly, anyone want to exchange drafts? We've tried that here before with varying degrees of success (thanks Chris!). Anyone? Anyone?

How about you? What are your goals for February?