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Wrapping up one big project while starting the next…

I’m organizing myself to finish up the production stages on the History of the Ancient World while also turning around to face the next big project. This is a complicated arrangement. For one thing, the production stuff I have to finish up is not terribly exciting: I’m working to finish drawing the maps so that we can have rough drafts by the end of February, I have to write for all the permissions to quote other people’s books, I have to locate photos for the illlustrations and also get permissions for those, I need to get the MS out to a few expert readers to check up on a couple of sections that are way out of my own areas of knowledge…etc.

Meanwhile, I want to get my dissertation drafted out so that I can defend it in the fall. The challenge here is that I could probably finish up the production work on the book fairly quickly if I devoted all my work time to it, but it’s so depressing to do only non-writing work day after day. So I’m trying to balance out a certain amount of production work every week while also getting back to my dissertation.

THIS is difficult because I tend to be an obsessive worker–when I start on one particular project, I have trouble thinking about anything else. And I also over-research to a really horrendous degree. I ended up writing 500,000 words on the History of the World and then cutting it in half, which is not something I can afford to do on my dissertation–I just don’t have the time.

So I’ve adopted a couple of new strategies. I’m scheduling my work time so that I alternate days on the dissertation and on production work–this wastes a certain amount of time, since I have to re-orient myself at the beginning of each work period, but it should keep me from losing my mind. Also I’m taking a different approach to my disssertation. I’ve outlined the entire thing on a single piece of paper:

Now I’m going to do a limited amount of research on each chapter, do a very rough draft of the whole thing, submit it to my advisor, and then devote additional attention only to those parts which she feels are lacking. That way I can avoid doing a year’s research on each chapter, which is my natural impulse. I’ll let you all know how this goes.

In the meantime, work on the Chicken Shed continues. My father built a custom door, since the doorway is a non-standard size, and it is magnificent–here he is, along with my husband, trying it out:

And the inside is almost ready for painting. I’m thinking I’d like to go with a color other than white: any suggestions?

I should be able to start moving into the Chicken Shed by March. Which would be a very good thing, considering the new source of noise in my house.