Last week, I sent my dissertation to my committee, who has a month to read it before my defense.
This week, in the relative mental space I now have, I began untangling the ideas I have for other projects.
I haven't starting a new big project since 2013 when I officially began dissertation research. Then, as now, I had some preliminary notes and a general sense of direction, so I wasn't starting from scratch entirely. Just, mostly from scratch.
But even with the gist of a project in mind (or actually, the gist of four interrelated ones), I feel quite unsure how to proceed. It's not every day you begin.
Because my projects are interrelated, I tried to map out their topics—what they have in common, what is unique to each. I figure knowing these relationships will help me as I take notes.
At first, my venn-ish diagram was mess of black ink. With all the circles and lines, I couldn't see what went where. So I pulled out some highlighters.* Their transparent lines were much cleaner, and I could more easily visualize the connections between my project ideas.
*pretty sure I bought (my parents bought?) these highlighters back in 2005 when I started undergrad—but I keep them around because they're really useful about once every year or two.
Having these ideas mapped out has situated my next project in relationship to all the other ones I have in mind. Now that I understand how they relate, I can sketch out my preliminary arguments and narrative for the one I'll work on first.
This Week's Books
I'm jumping the gun a bit, since I will leave my dissertation alone for at least several months before beginning to revise it into a monograph, but I started dipping into the literature on revising and reimagining dissertations. Germano's From Dissertation to Book seems quite promising, but the chapter on dissertation revising in Luey's Handbook for Academic Authors didn't have material that was new to me. I'll skim through the rest and see if I want to put them on my list of books to read in the summer while getting critical distance from my dissertation.
Though I rarely buy books (libraries are my happy place), I purchased DeSalvo's The Art of Slow Writing after loving the two-thirds I read before having to return it to the library, much overdue. DeSalvo has a number of ideas on tracking writing process and discovery that I want to implement in the upcoming weeks. Her introduction to the book on her blog is lovely.