Thursday, July 9, 2009

Discontents in Deep South Town

More discontents I never had
Since I was born, than here;
Where I have been, and still am sad,
In this dull Devonshire;
Yet justly too I must confess,
I ne'er invented such
Ennobled numbers for the press
Than where I loathed so much.

-- Robert Herrick

Am back home for the rest of the summer. I am trying out Herrick's formula for literary productivity. I'm not sure it's working.

I don't actually loathe it here -- at least, not yet -- but it is hazy and hot and sleepy, and there are too many strip malls and check-cashing places, and the most happening place in town is the Super WalMart, and the thought of staying here for the next thirty-odd years fills me with a vague sense of dread. I had an idea that this would force me to start revising the dissertation out of sheer boredom, or failing that, to start revising the novel I began a while ago and haven't touched for the last six months. But right at the moment, I can't bring myself to open either file.

Would it be phenomenally stupid for me to retype my entire dissertation, making whatever changes I see fit along the way? On the plus side, this would force me to pay attention to every word, and I would end up with a brand-new M*cros*ft W*rd version, which seems to be what publishers want, rather than an ancient and quirky WordPerfect file which always ends up with screwed-up formatting when I try to convert it. On the other hand, this sounds like it could be a colossal waste of time, and would also require me to actually install W*rd on my home computer, where I don't particularly want it. (Typing it up at the office is not an option, as I cannot have beer at the office. One must observe the decencies.)

Herrick, I'm fairly sure, never faced such a dilemma; but then, Herrick waited until after he had lost his day job to start sending his ennobled numbers for the press, which is a luxury I can't afford.

I think I will go swimming, or maybe pick some blackberries.


Sisyphus said...

I love Herrick!!!!!!

There needs to be more wine and nekkid women in this post if it's going to be about Herrick.

More to the point: do you have to stay _there_ for the summer? Couldn't you pack up and hang out somewhere else --- go stay on friends' couches, rent a cheapie lil' shack somewhere, grab a tent and camp out somewhere in a temperate clime?

Fretful Porpentine said...

Well, I've already been away for a month and a half, and I wasn't getting any work done while I was in England or staying with my parents, so I felt like I probably should come back for the rest of the summer.

That said, I'm really, really tempted to go on a road trip to New Orleans or something.

hck said...

My advice would be

Don't retype your Diss. Or you'll find out that you have to rewrite it completely. (At least that happens to me when I try to work with texts of my own which are older than ca. 2 years: my views and perspectives change too fast.) Just do what is necessary to get the thing published (updating the bibliography etc.).

Susan said...

If it helps, my press took a word perfect manuscript.

Don't retype, really. Half the changes you make won't matter. I promise.

Kendra Leonard said...

Download (from, naturally,, for free) and open your diss in it. You can save it out as a .doc, which is the standard MS Word format, without actually having to use MS Word. That way it's ready to edit and ready for publishers when it's time to send out you proposal and sample chapters.

Also, er, what if you put the beer in one of those hip-looking non-see-through plastic bottles hikers carry with them?

Fretful Porpentine said...

K2 -- Ooh, I like the way you think! And thanks for the tip about OpenOffice.

Digger said...

Thanks to hck and Susan. I'm faced with similar issues as FP working with older texts. As much as retyping feels like progress, I guess it isn't, really. Wonder where I can get a beer at 10am around here...