I won’t say much about our achievements at this point. Let me first tell you about my own experience and the final day of EdJoWriWe.
dissertation, thousands of words in random notes, and a vague idea of the type of journal article I could harvest from this morass of material. Once I started revising I spotted two or three distinct arguments tangled within it – all of
which required further research. I swiftly sank beneath the weight of the work needed to shape it into something coherent, and clung to my customary lifebuoy in times of PhD crisis: productive procrastination. As co-convenor with Eystein, I convinced myself that my job for the week was to facilitate rather than to participate: I did not need to make progress on my journal article.
This self-deception lasted a day or two. About halfway through EdJoWriWe, one of the other participants (hi Fayaz!) came up to me while I was composing an email on my phone during a writing session, and reminded me to write. At this point I had almost run out of ‘necessary’ jobs to do; I could find very little reason why I should not be writing. I skimmed through the haphazard notes I had written at the beginning of the week, and chose a direction. Resignedly, I printed copies of essays by my article’s main subject, Andrew Lang, and began to write a close reading. It was sloppily
written and full of generalisations along with notes to myself, such as [WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?] and [EXPAND], [JUSTIFY], and [HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO IMPERIALISM?]; but the words flowed with ease and I was heartened by my progress. The process of writing the close reading also made the shape and outline of the article I wanted to write apparent to me. I could see the connections and off-shoots more clearly as I wrote, and I even began to look forward to writing for the remainder of the week. I still allotted time to administrative tasks and emails, but I made certain to make a little progress each day. On Sunday morning, I knew that with the same consistent work I would hit my own personal goal for the week: 3000 words and a detailed outline.
Sunday passed too quickly: the first coffee break was upon us before we could blink, then a quiet lunch, and the afternoon sped EdJoWriWe to a close. As the hours ticked by, our participants’ successes began to pile up. We took to the Twittersphere to express our excitement.
It is a simple picture: a rectangle constituted by a multitude of other rectangle of various shades. It is the rectangles’ representative function that gives the picture its affective power; each row corresponds to a participant’s progress during EdJoWriWe and each rectangular block of colour represents work and focus and effort. Those rectangles didn’t build themselves. The image as a whole is a very rough-and-ready visualisation of EdJoWriWe’s participants’ progress over the course of the week. It maps in colour our realisation of our daily goals and of our respective end goals.
In very unscientific terms, the key is as follows:
Light green = successful completion of goal
Dark green = qualified successful completion of goal
Striped green and white = a day of mixed success and partial achievement.
Yellow = partial completion of goal
Orange = bare attempt at completion of goal
Red = failure to complete goal
Purple = absent due to work commitments
Black = absent due to other commitments
So, green is good, as is yellow: both denote progress. Approximately half of our participants completed a first draft; others achieved their personal goals for the week; and the balance made significant headway towards their targets. There were many, many rounds of applause as each participant reported in and cells were shaded green or yellow. Naturally harsh self-critics, one or two of our participants had to be persuaded to accept a green or yellow when they wanted to garb themselves in sad categorical red. I had my own little badge of honour: 3000 words and an outline. (After some post-EdJoWriWe wrangling, Eystein and I awarded ourselves with yellow rectangles for our ‘end goals’. Neither of us completed a draft, but both of us broke through significant barriers in our writing and argumentation.)
As the last belated blogger, let me take this opportunity to thank my co-organiser, Eystein Thanisch, for being a kindly,
disciplined, charitable soul with an enviable work ethic and an abundance of patience. He is also a far better prose stylist than I, and wrote a large proportion of EdJoWriWe’s funding proposal and website content; if there is a polished turn-of-phrase in the EdJoWriWe handbook or website, it was probably penned by him. Thank you, Eystein.
I would also like to thank our catering liaison, Sarah Sharp, for being ever-helpful and available both before and during EdJoWriWe. She assisted us with sourcing kettles, cups, and cutlery; went on supermarket trips; and tended to all things sustenance-related during the week. Her love-your-cup and cherish-your-cafetière rules helped minimise dishwashing duties, and she was a constant source of good humour and good sense. Thank you!
We also owe a great debt to the indomitable Ella Leith, our social media guru. Ella brilliantly took charge of our Twitter
feed and blogging schedule, and was far more imaginative in her endeavours than our measly expectations of what could be achieved in a week of blogging. She was unstintingly generous with her time and always enthusiastic about EdJoWriWe. Thank you, Ella.
Finally, to our excellent participants – thank you for being excellent. Your co-operation, hard work and collegiality
made EdJoWriWe possible.
Stay tuned for report from our #edjowriwesatellite in the coming days.