I’ve devoted most of May to working on the second draft of my Master’s Essay.
This hasn’t entailed as much writing as you might think. And not because I procrastinate like a pro (although I do).
No, for me revision means a lot of rereading, which also means a lot of wanting to throw Emile and its author against a brick wall.
It’s mostly Book V. It is alarming how relevant Book V still is. (Book V is about women and marriage. Book V is the reason Mary Wollstonecraft tears Rousseau a new one in A Vindication. If you’re a woman or respect women and want to be furious sometime, read Book V of Emile.)
It’s a worthwhile and important treatise for other reasons, in no small part, to my mind, because it inspired Shelley to make Frankenstein so much more than a ghost story. Not that Rousseau deserves credit for that. Nor, in fact, would he want it. He did not particularly approve of women authors.
You’re shocked, I know.
But even aside from steaming over Rousseau (and writing blog posts about it,), there are other aspects of revision that do not consist of actual revising. There’s a lot of mulling. Percolating. Staring. Sending weird texts.
It’s an active inactivity. And it’s part of my process. Production isn’t, on the whole, one of my struggles. I can be prolific as fuck when need be. But it requires a lot of silence beforehand. And after, when I mean to refine something.
It can be frustrating, as I’ve said before. I’d rather be writing than not. And sometimes I feel like I am only procrastinating and using the rush of a deadline when I should be taking mine time. But the other side of it is important, even if it doesn’t look like much is happening.