You all might remember the lovely writing group I'm in where the writing guru helped me come up with a plan for the next year of writing. Well, it's not entirely off the tracks, but there have been some large developments in my project which might cause a small paradigm shift.
So, my dissertation was a multi-genre study of gender and Cultural Phenomenon X (but my interaction with CPX wasn't that foregrounded); in order to write the dissertation, I had to deal with Larger Cultural Phenomenon Y to justify generic choices I'd made. Okay. My book project is single-genre and I'm looking at how women's interaction with CPX says something about LCPY. I think there's a connection to be made there and LCPY is getting a lot of critical interest at the moment - and no one's really looking at how gender impacts LCPY. Cool. However, LCPY is really big. Like huge. And I've always had a hard time making the connection elegantly between CPX and LCPY.
When it was my week in the writing group, I wrote an 18-20 page intro to a chapter where I talk about gender and CPX, trying to make my intervention in CPX a little more aggressive and thorough because I'd decided that I really want to focus on CPX more in my book. And while I was writing the chapter, I was putting in little notes like: "You really need to gesture to how this relates to LCPY here..." or "How are you going to deal with LCPY? Different chapter? Two-parted chapter?", etc. I just have never been that clear on how gender and CPX would really be a way to access the big, honkin' LCPY. I know it's there theoretically, but...well, it's a little like sub-atomic particles. I know they're there even though I can't prove they're there.
When my two writing group pals read this piece, they both asked, very innocently: "Why do you even have to deal with LCPY? The cool stuff is gender and CPX." And I just blinked for a couple of seconds and realized that I was still harnessed to something that I'd had to deal with in the dissertation, but I kinda didn't need to do that anymore. This would make a cleaner, more specific book. And I could still publish my forays into CPX-->LCPY as articles.
But I'm simultaneously liberated by this and also a little disappointed. Now I feel like my project doesn't have as much of a "punch" as it did before. I.e., I'm not going as big and broad as I was. But is that okay? I mean, for a first book, that might be better, yes? I feel like I'm putting Germano's advice to work here - but I also feel a bit like I'm letting go of a life preserver.
So, now I'm a little at sea. I need to consider how I'm going to deal with my last two dissertation chapters (which I had intended to squish into one larger chapter) - but now I'm not even sure that they need to be in the book at all! And I might have to consider writing some totally new chapters.
Holy cats. I think I just had a tiny heart-attack. Tell me that all of this will be sorted out...