Currently, I am favouring the latter. At risk of sounding slightly self-congratulatory (as co-convenor), other participants seem to be doing extremely well: we are keeping track of everyone's progress via spreadsheets but I also get that sense from the studious atmosphere and the conversations during breaktimes. The intensive working environment seems, generally, to be helpful. If anyone disagrees, this blog welcomes constructive criticism!
So can I use my experience with my own article for the general benefit of the public and explain how it seems to have gone wrong? I had most certainly done the research in advance. In fact, I arrived feeling like a bit of a cheat. I'd written an article, submitted it and had it accepted but with some changes strongly recommended by the peer-reviewer. EdJoWriWe seemed just the space in which to re-draft it.
It is more difficult than you might think to make even fairly minor, well-defined changes to a lengthy, complex document: individual sections are more interconnected than originally intended and, even when the re-drafted version can be parsed logically, there is a disruption to style and flow. For this reason, I had decided in advance to re-write the article from scratch, while liberally cutting and pasting from the previous version.
A lot can change in one's knowledge and in one's thinking during a period of study (and no doubt during periods doing other things, too). I wrote the original article almost a year ago and now find that I have a different view of the material and would have taken certain strategic decisions in both writing and researching differently, given what I now know or believe. This situation is not easy to resolve within the confines of EdJoWriWe. This week is about writing, not research, yet I believe a great deal of the latter still needs to be done in my case. It is also difficult to resolve within the context of my relationship with the publication in question. As my article has already been peer-reviewed, I can't attempt to publish anything too different from what I originally submitted. Withdrawal, for the time being, may be my only option.
This raises the question of when, if ever, it is a good time to publish, a topic which came up on our panel discussion on Tuesday and on which a wide range of views were expressed. I like to believe people go on learning and changing and developing throughout their existences and many if not all fields of study are easily exciting and complex enough to take up a lifetime's work. The learning curve is probably steepest early on. Therefore, you will end up coming to critique and perhaps reject your own publications, particularly if you try to publish early. Perhaps future readers of living or yet-to-be generations will do it for you. Should you live for the moment and be confident in your knowledge and current perspective or strive for the eternal? Or is a valuable contribution to scholarship something that is firmly based in and derived out of existing knowledge but which questions and seeks new perspectives? Is being open to and embracing the future actually a way of overcoming it?
It's been both of comfort and of benefit to be able to confront the issues with this article among others who are grappling with similar issues and are engaged in a similar process. I've shared my problems with a couple of people and they have been wise and supportive companions. Had I been on my own, the experience would have been more stressful and also easier to avoid confronting.