Monday, January 20, 2014

The woes of trying to write scholarship...

If you read my blog much, you may think I find it easy to write. It would be more accurate to say that I find it easy to blog. The barest hope that there might be someone out there reading motivates me. How do I crank out so many books, someone asks. It's because blogging 500 words is like having a conversation before breakfast.

I have a friend who just can't get his dissertation done, but he is quite a verbal person. I've suggested over and over that he record himself talking in the car and then write it up or maybe even email me as a motivation.

Scholarly writing is a different bird. It can take hours to craft a sentence. It can take days to finish a footnote. You end up sitting for an hour combing through a book that you don't end up using. It's hard enough to write books like that when you teach 4 courses each semester. But it's easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for an administrator to write a scholarly book.

And let me be clear that I've only written one truly scholarly book. Most people have no idea what a real scholar looks like.

So sue me for moaning and groaning. Another frustrating feature of scholarly writing for me is that I often finish a chapter--or an article--and realize all I have really done is figured out the content of what I want to say. If I really want the material to have impact, I'll have to rewrite the entire chapter all over again in a different arrangement.

So I've written 10,000 words of a chapter introducing the "new perspective on Christian Judaism." But it's completely predictable--Sanders, Dunn, Wright, Hays...  I'm looking at it and feeling completely average, even below average. Surely I can come up with a better way to present this worn out path.

I just wanted to vent. I may end up going with it. In the meantime, I'm going for a run...

Thanks for listening... or not :-)


Pastor Bob said...

Brought a smile.

Keith Drury said...

Yeah... My day too.

Ken Schenck said...


Susan Moore said...

Yea, that's it -follow your hunch.
After my head injury the neuropsychologist told me the best way to get my mind going was to get my body going. He is right.
Have you tried this? Pray about it first and be sure it is the Lord's will that you use His time writing what's on your mind to write, then if it is then fast and tell Him you will not write one word until He tells you what to say. Then sit there with your writing material in front of you and wait. Be resolved in your heart and wait on the Lord.
Funny story to that.
Although I don't write scholarly, writing can be painfully difficult.
Sometimes it gives me a buzz, and sometimes I'd rather eat nails!