Wednesday, January 13, 2016

On My First Academic Publication

I received the proofs today for what will be my first peer-reviewed publication.  The article is about 7500 words long.  It is based on research that I conducted eight years ago.  It took me many years of thinking, writing, thinking some more, studying for my exams, and writing again, and then re-writing and more re-writing, to get it right.  I am a fast writer in at least one sense.  I stand up, walk around my room for an hour or three, listen to music, all while thinking about what I want to say.  I let my mind trail off into areas that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to write and then, after all that, I will sit down and bang out words and words and words, at a rate of about 750 an hour, thinking in terms of paragraphs, not sentences.  Then I stand up and walk around some more.  Some of those words are good.  Most of them are not good.  I worked harder and longer on these 7500 words than I have on anything else – journalism, teaching, hiking, learning a language, yoga, improving social skills -- in my life.

The article is set in fine type and it includes seven beautiful images for which I paid a significant amount of cash out of my own pocket.  In order to finish this work, I relied on the unpaid labor of many friends and generous souls.  I am not being paid a single cent for these 7500 words.  Professionally, this article is good for a line on my resume and, hopefully, the intellectual interest of higher-ranked academics who may consider me for a job.  I don’t expect to have that many readers beyond my wonderful editors, copy editor and anonymous peer reviewers.  This is unfortunate and sad, as I believe I have worked hard to express interesting and new ideas about a subject few people know about, and I would like the world to pay attention to these ideas, to pay attention to me, and even more so to the Hungarian animator who is the subject of this piece.  The article may garner some interest in Hungary and among animation enthusiasts…The key word is "may."  At the moment, I’m taking a great pleasure in proofreading and just looking at my article set in beautiful type.

You are supposed to get more conservative with age.  I would say that I’m more doubting and less sure of my ideas as I get older and that politically I’ve grown to be far more liberal.  Part of this has to do with the company I keep in grad school.  Part of this has to do with the major debacles that have shadowed my entire adult life.  Part of this has to do with an increasing suspicion of capitalism and a bit of narcissism and anger that I live in a system that only values craftsmanship if it offers an obvious social utility.  I would like to think that these 7500 words do some good work for the world, that they educate other people about a wonderful artist and an interesting culture, that they express complicated ideas in an interesting way, that they offer some pleasure to a certain group of people.  Still, I hate the fact that, in most circles, I have to make argument for why these 7500 words provide any such uses.  I wish we could just support craftsmanship for its own sake.   

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