Good readers of my humble blog, I am still working on said paper. I have not gotten very far in terms of writing, though I am rather proud of myself that I managed to understand an article about the complexities of HLM without needing someone to sit down and hold my hand and explain it to me. Maybe the previous four years of such hand-holding actually [gasp!] meant that I have learned something in grad school.
Anyway, I digress. What I have learned is that writing academic papers is really hard. It is amazing that I have been working on this paper for six months, not including the initial analysis and conference submission, and yet cannot find a way to frame the paper to be "interesting" in the sense that anyone except for me and maybe four or five colleagues would want to read it. I have thought out how to frame it, written a draft, read a few more articles and, suddenly, I feel like I should re-write the whole thing. This is depressing because I chose this paper, which is sort of equivalent to my master's thesis, because it was "contained" — by which, I mean that I wouldn't have to learn about a whole slew of new methods, techniques and literature to be able to write it. Unfortunately, I was sadly awakened to the fact that the life of academia is not one of idle comfort writing whatever thoughts come into one's head so that one can then indoctrinate poor unsuspecting students into believing those thoughts all the while pulling in a many-digit salary at the expense of the public taxpayer, student tuition money or federal subsidies.
No, I am learning that being an academic is hard work, with many revisions of thought, changes in perspective, distilling (and recoding) of data, writing and re-writing, waiting to see if others find it worthy, more writing and re-writing, revisions of thought, arguing about why reviewers' thoughts are off-base, waiting some more to find out if some editor deems a single thirty-page article worthy of her or his press' ink. Who knew it was so hard?
[UPDATE]: Now Microsoft Word has conveniently deleted all of the pending changes that I had made. Wonderful...