When the first method you go to is not your own
>So, I’m working on an essay revision this week. It’s one that I’ve taken entirely too long to do, but, in my defense I have three – somewhat – valid reasons to situate against the procrastination and fear of rejection that has kept me from finishing this. The first concerns the figure about whom I write. She’s shown up in my dreams lately. Twice. The first time she appeared as a spectator in the crowd of a basketball game. As I walked in to take my seat, she stood up and asked me if I was finished. No pressure? Unfortunately, all I had was excuses as an answer. Not cool. In the second dream, we were a team in some kind of scavenger hunt. She seemed really cool in that dream; not intimidating at all. After the second dream, I decided that I have to stop working on writing that involves figures near bedtime lest Madea or T.D. Jakes show up in my dreams. Spooky.
A side note though. My dreams about this figure has led me to see how much I value the approval of folks that I consider elders or mentors. I won’t go so far as to call myself a people pleaser, but gaining the approval of the folks I work with and or respect has always been important to me. I want to do right by them. These tendencies are inspire and complicate my work. I always see rhetorical activity at home, so I look at the teachers, preachers, and figures that I’ve come into contact with the most as the site of my work. I aim to figure out what they’re doing as a way of honoring them; a show and tell kind of gesture that says to the field “see how neat the rhetorical practices are of Black women teachers, preachers, blogs,” etc. The challenge in being a Black feminist is that I know I have to critique at home and that’s the work I’m still trying to do. Where this figure is concerned, the challenge feels great because I’ve seen what happens when people have tried and failed to incorporate her work into histories adequately. They get spanked.
The second thing that keeps me from finishing it is my sense that I’ve sent this piece to the wrong journal. There was a notorious backlog for the journal I wanted to send this piece to when I first considered submitting it. At the time I was a grad student preparing for the job market and didn’t think I could spare the time involved with submitting to that journal, so I sent it to my second-choice journal thinking that I’d receive feedback faster. I did. Ironically, one of the readers instructed me to send the piece to my first choice journal because the content of the piece speaks directly to an important historical moment within my field. Revising for the second journal has been muy difficil because it has forced me to shift my thinking about this piece. I’d like it to be a recovery of a figure’s rhetoric that makes a critique of the disciplines historical memory and the narrow ways Black women’s activists work is taken up recognized and incorporated into contemporary scholarship. To make it fit for the second journal, I’ve had to think more about purpose and what understanding the rhetorics within Black women’s activism does for broader understandings of the rhetorical campaigns of historically marginalized communities. Totally different argument, right? I think the second argument can be really important… if I can finish it.
These two challenges lead me to my third. The framework I want to use to analyze this figure’s rhetoric is so heavily influenced by another scholar’s analytical model that I wonder what, aside from looking at a different site, am I doing that’s different. What do you do when the first method you go to is not your own? How much should you attribute?
I guess you go back to work. I’ve said enough here for now.
I have spoken