Thursday, 24 February 2011

What professors do: Day Four

Day Four, Thursday

I can say from start that this is not a typical day. It's a very sad day. An ominous day. Frustrating, annihilating, when you wonder whether anything is worth the effort. It is a day when no words can describe the amount of energy required. So every hour should count as three.

8 At computer checking email for discussions on yesterday's matter. Read through the revised paper on the Matter before the meeting. I am deliberately elusive about the Matter or even the nature of the Matter, but it's serious enough to make many people devastated. Serious enough to affect my and many other people's professional lives for all the future.
8:30 Drive to work, turning the arguments for the meeting in my mind. No relaxing meditation today.
9 Discuss the Matter with Morag.
10 Meeting, two to one, with emotions ranging from fury to tears.
11:30 Wind down with Morag over a cup of coffee, but getting still more agitated. Discuss further strategies. Share with a colleague.
12 Drive home, quick lunch, do not discuss the Matter with Staffan.
12:30 Check and respond to email.
1 Download the chapters for the edited volume with co-editor's comments. Read papers, correct format, fonts, line spacing, indents, double blanks (why on earth do people use double blanks?), quotes, italics, subheadings, punctuation and all those things everyone has done wrong. Yes, even those who have corrected and sent in a corrected version. There is simply no end to it.
2:55 go out on the patio to look at my daffodils. It's a beautiful warm, sunny day, but I am too depressed to feel any joy.
3 Tea with co-editor, discussing the chapter and dividing further tasks. Cannot avoid discussing the Matter. Envy the co-editor because she is retired and no longer part of it.
4:30 Check email, read another paper on the Matter, send back some more considerations. Feel I have forgotten something essential. Feel like quitting.
5 Another go at chapters, converting Harvard-style references to Oxford-style, as has been specified in the guidelines. My co-editor and I have agreed that we would rather do it ourselves than send it back to contributors, wait another month and get a new draft with new errors. I have volunteered to do it because she is doing more substantial editing. Maybe I am a masochist.
7 Dinner, but I am sorry to admit, I don't enjoy it.
7:30 Resume work
8 Talk on Skype to my youngest son.
8:30 Resume work. It takes three hours to convert 35 in-text references into 35 footnotes. Just so that you know. Put fullstops and commas inside quotation marks. Mark the missing references (I'll have to send it back to the author after all). All in all over three hours spent on one chapter that I could have used for something more creative if the contributor had followed the instructions. Go and tell me it's my own fault; I should have sent it back. Do it next time you edit a volume. I will never ever do it again.
9 send the edited chapter to author with references queries. Edit another chapter which needs much less editing.Wow!
9:15 Open private email and FB. Happy that a friend will be in Cambridge this weekend and will come by. Read a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit that Julia has sent me and that she wants me to read at her wedding. Burst into tears.
9:30 (estimated) Go to bed to read The Water Babies.

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