This week, I finished the eleventh week of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. This week’s writing tasks were about finalizing the macro parts: sharpening the argument, adding more evidence, revising the conclusion.
I’m excited to be nearing the finish line. At the same time, I’m freaking out because my journal article isn’t as perfect as I thought it would be at this point. Despite all of the hours I’ve put into writing, my article still has flaws.
I was glad to see that Wendy Belcher addresses writers’ insecurities in her chapter on finishing up the twelve week article. Specifically, she discusses the fear of finishing. My motivation to work on my article has plummeted as I’ve gotten closer to the finish line. I don’t want to submit a less than perfect article to an academic journal, but I know that Belcher is right when she says that we need to learn to send imperfect work into the world. [The blog has been good practice for this. Every single post I’ve ever written has some kind of problem, but I somehow continue to write and post every week.] There are, as she says, diminishing returns to working on an article to the point of perfection.
I noticed this week that the closer I get to finishing my article, the louder my inner perfectionist yells. All of my dormant insecurities reared their ugly heads in unison this week, leading to dramatic bouts of self-doubt.
I continue to revise big parts of my article. Yesterday, I read a book chapter that made me me question my article’s entire argument and raison d’être. I wondered if I should throw the whole thing into my scrap heap of broken writing dreams and try again with a new idea. At times, my argument and analysis seem so unsophisticated to me that I wonder if I will only embarrass myself when I send my article to the journal I picked.
My article is missing some pieces of evidence that I can no longer locate. A few years ago, I came across a source written in Spanish about how German immigrants would “mejorar la raza” (better the race), by which Guatemalan elites meant that they hoped that European immigrants would “whiten” and “better” indigenous populations. I can’t find the source anywhere. I’ve added a bunch of other sources that suggest much the same idea, but I wanted to convey the exact wording. Massive frustration.
I’m pretty sure my article’s literature review is lacking some critical sources. I tried to skim some new sources and make sure to cite most of the foundational ones, but I’m sure that someone will ask me how I could possibly have forgotten to cite That Important Scholar And Their Groundbreaking Research. I desperately miss having institutional library access.
I’m already anticipating that journal editors won’t even pass my article on for peer review. I wonder what the rejection letter will look like and say. If the article goes on for peer review, I’m worried that the reviewers’ comments will be so awful and soul-crushing that I won’t know how to respond to them. Writing often feels so personal to me that rejection of my writing feels like a rejection of me as a human being. [Yes, I’m still working on overcoming this!]
I’m worry that I won’t be able to get published as an independent scholar. I talked to a few people on Twitter about this recently. Many people seem to feel that independent scholars can and do get published, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve been an “independent scholar” for almost a year now, but still feel that many people view my lack of an academic job as evidence of professional failure. What if the journal editors think I am a fraud?
The journal I picked prefers British English. Although I’m familiar with common differences between British and American English, I’m dreading the conversion. I’m also afraid that my writing style won’t conform to the norms or aesthetics of British academic writing. The journal I picked also seems to have no discernible way to reach the editors, which made sending a query letter impossible. I wonder how big of a red flag this is and if I should have picked a different journal.
I’m also oddly sad about finishing writing my article. I liked watching my article improve week by week. I’ve got a zillion other writing projects that I want to work on, but I’ll miss the structure of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. The workbook has become quite the trusted friend. It has also been a real pleasure to talk with Wendy Belcher herself about article writing via Twitter.
I’m trying to get a hold of all of these insecurities and beat them back with a stick. The idea of sending out my journal article to people to actually READ is terrifying. I feel massively vulnerable and exposed. I’m dealing with this by acknowledging and validating my own feelings. I’m doing a whole lot of meditation on acceptance, too.
Next week, SENDING MY ARTICLE TO AN ACTUAL JOURNAL. Breathe.