Yesterday I went to the Baillieu library to take out another pile of hard books. (You may be able to deduce from the titles - The Gods In Epic, The Textualization of Nature, Acts of Religion, Materialities of Communication - that I am going off on a tangent about Roman religion as a communications network which, er, textualizes nature. I'm quite excited about this, as I think it solves a few of the problems in the thesis's structure.) Then I got myself booked in to give a paper at the School of Cultural Studies research seminar, and then went along to Anthony White's paper to see what the gig would be like; I was immediately very glad that I'd signed up for it. The paper itself was interesting and well-theorized; attendance was pretty good (about 15 people, which isn't bad for a departmental seminar); and the feedback was awesome: coming from diverse places, but all very thinky and erudite and generous.* And the theoretical points of reference people are using are fairly familiar to me. So this is going to be a great place to try out stuff from the book, I think.
The day before yesterday I shoved Chapter One roughly into place. This isn't usually the way I work - the structure of a paper usually evolves for me out of slow, sentence-by-sentence, thoughtful and immersed work - but I think that's because I'm working on a larger scale now (not to mention because I'm rewriting), so I have to have a framework in place before I do the detailed stuff. It's also because it's a longer project in terms of time as well as word count, and I'm interleaving writing with reading - so I don't want to have either the thinking or the phrasing buffed to a high shine of completion while I'm still reading. Because what if something in one of the piles of hard books makes me rethink everything? So this more rough-hewn way of working feels like a better process for the moment.
Before that I had a bit of a rough time for a few days - hit an emotional bump in the road or something. So today I celebrated feeling better about myself and my book by, er, slacking off: I worked out a rough structure for Chapter 2 and made some notes about the overall aim of the chapter, then curled up in the comfy chair and read through the fan story I'm working on at the moment. I'm happy to report that it is awesome, containing drawling, robe-swirling, and politics.
Otherwise, life keeps chugging along. I started a tai chi class a couple of days ago, and instantly felt about five times better (memo to self: YOU HAVE A BODY); we finally filed J's visa application (behold! could anyone who had not lived in a relationship akin to marriage for two years have amassed this many documents? ) the other day; I've bought a present for my nephew's upcoming third birthday, and now I just have to post it; and I continue to sew obsessively.
*Melbourne Uni seems in general like a generous place. I say this based on (i) going to this paper and (ii) going to the loo in the Baillieu Library, to discover a whole wall full of touching and supportive graffiti; one person had written 'Help! I like a girl but I don't know what to do with girl bits!' and one person had written 'My heart is broken and it hurts so much'. And both those comments had drawn multiple, lengthy, helpful responses. Not one person was mean or rude or sarcastic. Truly it is a utopian toilet. (Except of course that the loos are gender-segregated, so the conditions of entrance to utopia are that you submit to compulsory binary gender: this is more usual for utopias than it should be, alas.)