Writing is Rewriting Writing that’s been Rewritten

No prizes for guessing what I’ve been spending the bulk of this week working on.

  • Conference proposals
    • Spent Monday writing the two conference proposals that are deadlined for submission at the end of this month.  One’s an extended abstract of ~2,000 words based on my research, or as I prefer to think of it – a bloody paper already – so that took the bulk of the time.  The other one is a brief 500 word communications workshop proposal, which took slightly less time to write – but more time than I expected to polish in terms of the phraseology. As you might expect, if I’m writing about communication…I really ought to be able to communicate that better.  Biggest problem was running out of synonymous terms for communication.  Twitter was a minor help…but still ended up rephrasing a paragraph just to work around the problem.  As always, writing is re writing.  Also Mrs Llama has been lovely here giving a bit of feedback in bright-red pen (we disagree on nuances of phraseology and style a lot, but she’s hotter on grammatical structure than I am).
  • Thesis chapter writing
    • Into the home run now – working on the brief specific applications of theory for Marx, Foucault and the autonomists.  Just the methods to briefly rewrite (they’re largely okay as they are) and I can share it with my supervisors.  I’d be lying though if I wasn’t lying awake every night worrying about ever finishing whole thing though.  Or how much of a re-write this 3rd version will need after the supervisors are through with it.  Stressed?  Yes.
  • Book chapter proposal
    • Did a minor edit on this, shared it with Andreas and got told to send it off to the publishers for consideration.  And now we play the waiting game.
  • Teaching
    • Media Communications
      • Into the first of two weeks looking at Freud, psychoanalytics and their application in PR, marketing and business.  Bit of a laugh in the lecture when the academic did a double take when i walked into the room saying “What are you doing here?”.  Always nice to be warmly welcomed, but then Neil has taught me philosophy in the past – and sat through one of my conference papers.  Having explained I was lurking cos I teach on the module I sat back and enjoyed an exploration of the psychoanalytic properties of objects.  Hence the seminar that followed later in the day tried to draw out the shared cultural myths behind everyday objects – with the idea that the students could then see how we can use unconscious desires to drive advertising in subtle ways.  And given they’ve an assessed presentation on the subject coming up, I do hope they were listening.  Also took the chance to reference my good chum and Creative Overlord of Moxie Creative (free plug, they’re great) Nora, who I know reads this blog every now and again.  And by referenced I of course mean “spoke highly of”.
    • Face to Face to Facebook
      • Probably the dullest seminar session this week on digital literacy.  When I look at the approach taken to teach this, versus the effort I used to go through back in the day at York Uni for my teaching sessions…well it’s a lot less labour intensive.  Not sure the students quite get it, and frankly I think I’d overhaul the whole session given half a chance.  As it was I took the original handout the lecturer this week had written and rewrote.  And after running the session on Thursday for the first time, rewrote it again in time for Friday’s sessions.  It’s still not the greatest bit of training literature…but now at least there’s more of a logical path through it for the students to take during the session (and in their own time) that should reap them some rewards.
      • Nevertheless I took advantage of the time with the students to talk about their assignments and the course in general, turning it into a general problem solving and reassurance session(s) instead.  Fair amount of exploration of academia.edu and social media, not a lot into the social bookmarking etc.  But at least they’re aware these tools exist and some of them might well take advantage of them.  Funniest thing was one of the students deciding to give one of my supervisor’s papers on academia.edu repeated hits…taking it from a handful to over 1,000.  Not sure it was the most productive use of his time, but I used it to illustrate the falsehood of relying only on quantitative metrics for assessing research quality!
      • On the other hand the discussions around their forthcoming essays (which I’ll be mostly marking over the Easter break…joy) were productive.  A few have it well in hand, and hopefully I gave those that were less sure a few pointers.  Huzzah.
  • Marking
    • As I’ve taken over two more groups, just at the point they got to hand in a practice essay for formative assessment, this means I’ve taken on a load more marking.  I’ve been knocking off at least 3 every night this week in terms of indicative grading and feedback, rather than face the horror of a whole day (or more) lost to marking them.  Not getting paid for all this marking is a bloody cheek, when it’s supposed to be part of the hourly rate.  But I’d not taught these students when they submitted these – so it’s easy to see how the university is exploiting my immaterial labour here.  Anyway the essays are for the most part not bad, although one or two of them as always are a bit sub-optimal.  Hopefully those students’ll take my suggestions for improvements on-board for their assessed essays due in a few months.  It’s far more pleasant to be struggling to work out which high-grade to give a paper, than to sit there agonising over whether to fail or just give a very low grade to a poor one.
    • And yes, part of me does wonder if this is a bit of hand-holding for them to massage their experiences of the course, rather than offering say 1-2-1 tutorials instead.  But then my poor students would have to do this in a lobby somewhere with me.  Not having an office space…yeah, that’s going to be the biggest issue I’ve had with the NTU experience as a student, and as a member of staff – even more so.
    • Still it’s been heartening to read some polished essays that are frankly better than anything I can turn out today, and to spot other’s making common errors that I still make too.  Marking these things really helps remind me of my own failings as a writer, and spurs me to try…really try…to avoid making them again.  But I suspect I will, all the same.
  • Reading
    • I’ve not been doing a lot of deep reading this week – but these two articles certainly struck a chord:
  • Opportunity
    • As they do, an interesting opportunity for later this year has floated into sight this week, via Mrs Llama – which is somewhat surprising.  Not sure if it’ll be suitable or workout, but I’ll be investigating this weekend…
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