Looking up exhausted, I catch my husband’s eye and say with some force: “I never want to do that again”.

No I am not talking about childbirth, but rather my first solo foray into the mysterious world of academic publishing. Just like that first pregnancy I wandered into it with a clear enough sense of the desirable outcome, but absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for.

What is more the whole process took nearly 18 months, I could have had two babies in that time! Though to be fair I think even by academic standards this was a pretty long and complicated gestation. Three different editors, five substantial rounds of edits, then a total rewrite, followed by another round of edits, before finally looking at a galley (new term for me, basically the laid out journal version). I am not exaggerating I think producing another human being would have been less work (though of course the same cannot be said for the next 18+ years!).

I will do another post about the content of the article and its purpose, for now I want to capture some of the things I learned from the process.

  • I was naive, very naive. Sure lots of people had told me that articles are a long drawn-out experience, but honestly I could not have imagined what was coming. Probably just as well.
  • I was MORTIFIED – literally reading emails and comments getting redder and redder. I thought I had done a decent enough job on writing something up, but the truth was I had no idea how far away I was from an acceptable standard. Morto. In fact even right now I can feel my cheeks going rosy.
  • I need to listen to my gut instincts more. I have a tendency to rush past that queasy feeling of uncertainty without unpacking it, and inevitably that will come back and bite me in the ass. If something doesn’t seem quite right, chances are it probably isn’t and I need to stop and figure out why.
  • Comma splices, are bad … Actually, I mean common splices are bad.
  • Good advice is good. It is more than good it is awesome. When you get it. Bad advice is … well, bad advice sucks – especially when you are not equipped to spot it. Bad advice should be locked in a metal box, chained, strapped to a concrete boulder, and made to walk the plank.
  • Attention to detail may once have been a strong point of mine. If it once was it’s not anymore. I blame the children.

Then there are the things that I already knew – judgment is a very subjective thing, people can be both very tetchy and very supportive (even at the same time), feedback is probably not being quite as negative as I think it is, and sometimes people (including me) don’t read things when they should.

Despite all of it, there is a small feeling of achievement beginning to creep back in. However there will not be any immediate patting myself on the pack because I don’t think I will get past my sense of ambivalence about the value of the article. I hope it is useful, but to be honest I really don’t know.

That said, I’ve had three kids so I am pretty secure in the knowledge that I have a fairly decent capacity for forgetfulness. Precedent would suggest that before too long I’ll be signing up to put myself through it all again.