My MacBook Air is in the shop (sad!) because a couple of weeks ago, the hinge randomly cracked. Turns out it is a known issue and Apple is fixing it for free, which is good, but I had to have it shipped to Apple to be fixed, which is less good. I can’t whine too much, though, because I do have four Mac laptops, so I am using an older one now, a five-year-old MacBook that I haven’t used much in the past year. All of this is a really long and pointless introduction to tell you that I stumbled upon some links that I bookmarked almost a year ago, some of which were bookmarked in order to look at them later (and therefore I really had no idea what they were).
One of them was a link for 750words.com. I had no idea what that was, so I clicked it – and turns out it is a super awesome website where you are encouraged to write at least 750 words a day – privately. The setup is really lovely, it’s pretty distraction-free, and there’s a word counter at the bottom of the page. When you hit 750 words, the counter turns green, and you can click it to save and stop writing. Even more fun, you get tons of statistics on your writing – how long it took you, how fast you type, and even what mood you were in while writing (based on the words you used). I’ve only used it for two days now, but I really like it, and I think I’ll keep using it to start my day.
This manuscript just got a revise-and-resubmit decision, with generally quite positive comments. Hooray! And wow, that was fast. I’ve published in this journal before and I like it quite a lot – and on top of all its other positive qualities, it has a double blind review process.
Also, the manuscript that I worked on during Research Week is nearly finished, and I am planning to send it to co-authors by the end of this week. I have more to say about my writing process on that one, but it will have to wait – it’s time to get ready for work. I’m absurdly pleased with myself at this moment…
Ugh, I am suffering from ennui. I don’t have a damn thing to complain about – except this endless freezing weather – but I can’t seem to get my act together lately. Nothing is particularly urgent at the moment, which really doesn’t help. I have all kinds of things I could be doing, but I don’t feel like it. I can’t even get excited about my shoe collection (too slippery outside, nobody notices anyway, why bother), and have worn the same boring black loafers three days this week. That’s a bad sign.
Next week is spring break at my university. This would be a wonderful time to go to Florida and sit on a beach… but alas, I am not a student and I still have to work. However, the boss will coincidentally be away next week, and I miraculously have no meetings whatsoever on my calendar for next week! NONE. That never happens. NEVER.
So, I am declaring next week Research Week! I am going to tackle some reading and writing and thinking and make some real progress. I did submit that manuscript a few weeks ago, but I haven’t moved on to the next thing yet. I have lots of projects that I should be working on: two new manuscripts, a revision of an old manuscript, a poster for a conference in April… hopefully I can get moving on at least one of these things next week. Who’s with me?
Well, what do you know! The delinquent co-authors got their comments to me. I suggested to PA that I could move a project that was important to PA to the top of my priority list – once PA got comments on that manuscript back to me, of course. And PA sent the comments back in less than two hours. Then I used the fact that PA had already sent comments to shame GS into sending comments quickly too. And now the paper is submitted!! Hooray!
At the moment, I do not have any articles in review, which pains me. I do have four that are pretty close to getting out there (or back out there, as the case may be for a few of them) – two are papers on which I am the first author, and two on which I am a co-author. All four of these have two co-authors in common – my postdoctoral adviser (PA), and a grad student (GS) in PA’s lab.
PA is notoriously busy and important, though well-meaning, and it always takes a long time for PA to get around to reading and commenting on drafts. I won’t lie, it pisses me off – but I try to remember that PA puts a lot of work into reading carefully and making helpful comments. Also PA has been around a long time and has hundreds of publications, and my research is somewhat outside of PA’s main research interest. So, I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.
GS takes even longer to get drafts back to me. GS has gotten entirely too self important for GS’s own good, I think. Though still a grad student, GS claims to be “too busy” and gets “too many emails to keep up with.” If GS is supposedly too busy and important now, what on earth is going to happen when GS is a faculty member?
Yes, GS does good work, and some of it may end up being pretty important in the field. But it never will if GS doesn’t hurry up and finish something for once in GS’s life. GS has no first-authored papers yet – and only because GS is so unbelievably slow to get things written and submitted.
It took GS and PA over two months to get comments back to me on the draft I wrote in November. I made major revisions (in just a few days, mind you) last week and sent it back, asking for final approval to submit. I wonder how long that will take?? I am trying to work up the energy to get back to revising the thrice-rejected Paper that Will Not Die, but part of my reluctance is related to the fact that GS and PA are co-authors. Why bother hurrying if they are going to take months and months to read it?
And of course, the other two papers on which I am co-author – yep, GS is first author. One of those is a revise and resubmit that has been sitting around for well over a year, while more established people in that particular subfield have published several papers. All of GS’s time has been devoted to trying to get the other paper reviewed by a couple of journals who have single-word-titles, both of which have rejected it without review (and have also rejected GS’s subsequent appeal to the decision). It’s been nearly six months of this. Can we move on, please?
Woo hoo, I did it!! I just sent my manuscript off to my co-authors. I am so freaking excited that I wrote this whole thing in just under one month. I kind of can’t wait to get started on the next one.
Even more exciting, I managed to do this during a really stressful time. We have a major annual deadline this week – and the report that is due on that deadline is primarily my responsibility. That report is now pretty much finished (Hmm, I wonder if I should add it to my November word count? That’s another ~30,000 words), and I submit it on Wednesday. THEN on Thursday I am giving an hour-long seminar on my research to a rather large group of people. I also reviewed 10 grant proposals for a private foundation and reviewed one or two manuscripts for journals, interviewed candidates for an administrative position, traveled to a workshop, and traveled for a family Thankgiving, all in the month of November.
The down side is that now I know I will never again be able to convince myself that I am too busy to write a paper. I’ll have to find more interesting ways to procrastinate.
It’s been two full work weeks since I began this month’s writing project… and I just printed out a nearly-presentable draft. I have to fill in some missing information here and there, make a new table, write the figure captions, write an abstract, and re-run one statistical test on SPSS because I forgot the non-significant p-value… but it’s just about done. I am stunned.
To be fair, this project has been in the works for years, I have written about it in multiple grant proposals, and I have presented preliminary data in talks several times, so I have been thinking about it for a long time. So the writing flowed much more easily than some other papers I have written in the past. But two weeks? This is unprecedented for me. Am I getting better at this? Was I wrong when I thought I couldn’t produce publications at a fast rate… or did I just get lucky this time?