Weekend update.

By | July 10, 2011

Hey kids! I hope every last one of you is having a marvelous weekend. I have been spending the lion’s share of my free time the past few weeks working on the first round of edits to my upcoming but as-yet-untitled book, which I must now dutifully remind you will be published by The Feminist Press early next year. This is also why I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Book-editing is challenging — though markedly less challenging than book-writing –and most of the challenge comes from trying to anticipate the reactions and questions people might have while reading the text.

See, writing a blog, or really any kind of comment-enabled online material, is a pretty distinct experience because if I say something badly, or use a problematic term, I can get near-instant feedback about it, and can then quickly follow up with further thoughts on the resulting conversation. A book is less of a conversation and more of a lecture, in which my audience is prevented from asserting their queries and criticisms, and I am likewise blocked from responding to them. Being a bit of a perfectionist by nature, I am faced with trying to anticipate all these criticisms. Which is not useful and frankly does not make for a very good book, as I can get so distracted by trying to make my language as correct as possible that I am sometimes hamstrung from actually writing with the kind of impassioned fervor y’all have come to expect from me.

So I am really trying NOT to do this, but it is difficult.

Elsewhere! Marianne and I are working to get back on a regular Fatcast recording schedule. The theme of our most recent episode is “Risk Management” and it is available on iTunes and your favorite podcast server-upper. Over on xoJane I’ve discussed my inexplicable love for survival series Man Vs. Wild, given ferevent but unsolicited advice against buying diet books, and hailed Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex as one of my personal heroes.

I am getting well and truly schooled on statistical research by a real live scientist in comments to my last post, so check the comments over there on where the number-crunching portion of my analysis went off half-cocked.

When you read statements about paper findings you think are meant to be factually accurate (i.e. not a newsmagazine’s or newspaper’s interpretation of the bottom line rather than report on the bottom line as stated) you always have to read it very specifically and literally. The reason it can take you MONTHS to write a 5-page paper is that you have to be very specific with the words, the implications of those words and the sentences they form, EVERYTHING. You CANNOT leave it up to the reader to assume or feel or jump to conclusions the way you can in the humanities. Poor scientific papers are often poor not because their experiments were poor, but because EXACTLY what they did or concluded is not clear – there are too many ways to read the word choices or sentences to be sure of exactly what they are saying.

Curiously, to some extent I fell into the same trap so many media outlets do, that is, using an overly superficial read of a study to make broad proclamations.

Have a delicious Sunday y’all.


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