These past couple of weeks have been really important for me as far as the book goes (for those of you who care about the details here's a sort of still-accurate blurb on the project). I figured out a very cool archival angle for the new chapter I decided to add. Then I did a bunch of archival research/reading/writing about that. And, this morning, in an effort to step back and think more about the big picture, I sat down and read through my current drafts of the introduction and each of the case studies. The reading experience was a bit of a letdown. Let's just say that I realized, not for the first time, that there's still a lot to be done. Which I know, but it still feels big and exhausting and difficult right now. So, using the miracle of self-talk, I ran myself through a series of very-true-but-sometimes-forgotten reminders that I will repeat like a mantra. (My beloved will giggle at my calling this self-talk, cuz he's been saying the same things to me over and over again for months now...)
While a well-conceived dissertation might be turned rather easily into a good book, it's a lot harder to turn well-conceived articles into a good book. Because what makes for a well-conceived article is not what makes for a good book chapter. Thus the reason this book feels harder to write than the last one is because it is! I need to remember and respect that the origins of this project were different.
If you count the time I spent working on it in dissertation form, then my first book took at least seven years from start to publish. This current project isn't anywhere near seven years yet, so what's the rush? Besides, even if it takes longer than that, who cares?
Which brings me to the final thing I need to keep reminding myself: I have tenure, dammit! And I'm being only half-flippant when I say it that way. I got tenure two years ago but am only now thinking of myself as mentally tenured, if that makes any sense. I know that my Type-A-do-everything-yesterday approach to life needs to be tempered with the recognition that I not only want to "get it done," I want to get it done well. And this is in fact one of the supposed perks of tenure, no? To be able to take time to make good work great?