Friday, January 7, 2011

won't you please please help me?

Today is officially the last day of winter break. Although it never really felt like the end of a semester around here because it really wasn't. Right now the libraries are packed full of kids studying for their finals, because finals come after winter break. I have been staring at my computer all week trying to write a paper due on Tuesday. So that wonderful feeling of everything being done and being able to relax over the break never really happened for most of us.

I'm glad life is starting back up anyway. Next week will be busy and wonderful. I'll have turned this horrid paper in, classes and new projects will begin. Then it will feel like a new year.

Oh this paper. It really is killing me. I feel that it is rife with problems, that it is convoluted and uncertain of itself and I'm being stubborn and refuse to scrap it and start over. If I've learned anything from all the massive amounts of television I consume, starting over never worked in Project Runway, not this late in the game, and I have Tim Gunn in my head right now telling me to "make it work". I'm 1/4 way through my word count and I have 4 more days before it's due, so I think that's plenty of time to make it work.

One of the main problems is that I'm kind of not so much in to the topic as I thought I was at first. I tend to go with my gut on topics, and if something catches my interest and I think about it more than twice then that's what I go for. Typically that involves something with horror or gothic stories and movies, and that's what happened this time. We were talking about science in the nineteenth centuries and I kept thinking about Poe and his interest in science, and about Mary Shelley and H.P. Lovecraft and it just seemed to me that so much of the horror genre was born out of this anxiety with science that existed in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and I wanted to explore how and why these authors used science as a theme in their horror novels.

I think one of my biggest problems is terminology. Even though they are so obviously connected it's hard to bring these three people into one 4000 word paper, mostly because of annoying differences in labels. I hate to have to categorize them all. Is Shelley a Romantic or a Gothic? Is Poe a Gothic? I don't think so, but everyone says he is. Lovecraft surely isn't Gothic, but he kind of is? Some people say they all wrote science fiction, while technically science fiction isn't supposed to be a genre until the 1920s. They certainly didn't write horror stories, right? Even though they are the predecessors to modern horror. They all come from very different social backgrounds and all have very different experiences with science, whatever category someone puts them in. I guess labels don't matter in the end. What matters is how I connect them and what conclusions I can draw from the connection. The connection I've chosen is the poles, meaning the arctic and antarctic poles. They all have moments of discovery in the poles. That's the key point I think.

I hope it comes together and I can make it work. Part of me really doesn't like the fact that my life consists of me agonizing about a paper, but at the same time nothing is more satisfying than finishing a paper and feeling proud of the work I've done. I'm going to try to keep doing this, and maybe, just maybe, someone someday will pay me for it.

If they don't pay me to write papers, maybe they'll pay me to read them. My sister started an editing boutique recently and I've joined up. We're a two lady operation now and hoping beyond hope that we can get some fishies to bite. The thing is, I've been reading/editing/grading papers now for the last 7 years. I started grading papers before I even knew how to write papers. And after all of these years of writing/reading/editing/grading papers I think I've finally grasped the elusive beauty of the academic essay. I don't mean to boast, but it's basically the ONLY thing I am good at.

What we're doing is offering a whole range of editing options, from Global and Substantive Edits (content and rhetoric) to Copy Edits (grammar and punctuation) to Proofreading (cleaning up typos and making the format pretty). Anything any student or writer could need. And we both have years of experience and we are both really really smart people.

So, I'm asking all of my 3 readers to help me get the word out about our editing boutique. It's called Arch Editing, and you can find us on Twitter and Facebook under that name, and here is the lovely link to our lovely website:


  1. i am so glad you and your sister are doing this! it's about time! i will definitely try to get you clients. and if I happen to ever write an academic paper ever again, I'll have you edit it for sure!

  2. I'm interested that you're writing about Poe, who is Baltimore's favorite son. When you come visit us we'll take you to his grave site! Hopefully, by then your paper will be satisfactorily completed!