Just a Touch Smitten: Work in Berlin

In this city that has finally managed to wound me in the course of a wicked subway rap battle, I still enjoy and crave the challenge: today, it’s prose production, the crumpling up of old schedules, the whipping of manuscripts into inboxes of distant editors, a throwing of oneself south to the archive to slake the thirst for more documents.

In the past five days I managed to submit two book reviews (totaling about 4000 words, of which 2,850 were for German historians, a tough bunch indeed) and a revised article manuscript (about 12,000 words long).   Now that those pipes are unclogged, I can turn to the unfinished, or in Schubertian terms, die Unvollendete:

– finishing a Rape of Nanking essay based on work I did last year at Stanford (3500 words),

– three article manuscripts based on the East German and Nazi archives in Berlin (about 21,000 words),

– some administrative business for my life as a professor-pedagogue (unpublishable, word counts don’t matter),

– book manuscript A (120,000 words)

– book manuscript B (51,000 words)

– a few translations of worthy European materials for this blog (from the German and French, and we never do word counts on Sinologistical Violoncellist itself, as that would imply that it is an actual “publication”),

– final edits and submission of  my “sure-to-be-slain-by-the-reviewers, but-deserving-of-review-anyway” manuscript on Simone de Beauvoir’s trip to China in 1955 (12,000 words).

That is all going to require some hacking.  Fortunately I will be taking short trips soon to Hamburg and Helsinki, probably skipping an incredible conference in Leiden, Netherlands, and ending up in Seoul in a week’s time.  Because how could I forget about Korea?  Better get busy so as not to be dragging around a bag of papers flecked with blue and red ink, as if an invasion plan for my own projects, a kind of surprise attack, were in the offing.

But at least some of the work has now been smitten, in the sense of me having done the smiting.  The motes grow large as they approach the eye, but once the fine detail work is done, the writer can merely exhale, and they float away, weightless as an idea.

Simone de Beauvoir at Work

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