Book Chapter Blues

Book Chapter Blues July 18, 2017

I’ve written book chapters before, but for some reason I’m wigging out over this one more than might be precisely warranted. What gives?

I wish my writing space looked this neat. Photo by  Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash (in public domain).
I wish my writing space looked this neat. Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash (in public domain).

I don’t know if it’s just that I’m still recovering from All The Life Changes At Once and getting settled back in Indiana, or that I remain disenchanted with academia in general and the exploitative model of academic publishing in particular… but I’m struggling right now, and I’m on a deadline, and ugh.

I’m under contract to write a book chapter that’s on a gender/sexuality/fairy-tale topic that’s totally my jam, but just far enough outside my comfort zone that I’m feeling a lot of impostor syndrome, despite having published on fairy tale and folklore in literature topics before. I have enough time left that it’ll all turn out fine, but that doesn’t mean I’m not super stressed (which also accounts for why I’ve got less bandwidth to write blog posts here).

Two of the book chapters that I’m happiest with were tons of work, but didn’t feel this stressful (unless I’m mis-remembering). Those are my chapters in Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms (on silenced women in fairy tales, in a particular tale type where the sister rescues her brothers who’ve been turned into birds) and in Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television (on “Sleeping Beauty” TV adaptations). That last one was co-authored, so I was mostly responsible for the parts on the TV show Dollhouse and a lot of the feminist theory. And my coauthor Brittany Warman was great, so that helped.

(I’m realizing that I’m often responsible for “bring in the feminist theory!” as a coauthor, which is an interesting side note given another book chapter I’m working on, this one with some digital humanities colleagues on the topic of gender in the field…okay, good to know that I’m basically that person)

Academic writing is often risky, and that’s a good thing, in my opinion. I think I’m just keenly aware of that sense of risk right now, and it’s messing with me, and I feel isolated because it’s summer break and I’m not surrounded by colleagues the way I was at Berkeley during the spring semester.

Anyway. Here’s a glimpse into the academic writing process, which I wish got easier over time, but clearly it doesn’t. I’m trying not to romanticize things like spooning my books to sleep, but that might be how the rest of my month looks.

Browse Our Archives