This week I have nothing that needs grading and a paper that needs writing. It's a happy combination. I'm submitting a manuscript for a special issue of a journal in which I'd love to publish. Normally I'd think it was out of my league, but I have a dataset that's a good fit for this special issue.
I love writing papers, you guys. [she said geekily] The cadence of a scholarly paper is familiar to me now: here's what we know, and here's the question I am asking. Here's how I investigated the question, and here's what I found. Here's what it means to the wider world. I often start in the middle, because the method section is a way to establish momentum. I usually write up the results next, splashing around in my data like a pig in...Wilbur's buttermilk bath.*
*What is up with the buttermilk bath in Charlotte's Web? Doesn't that seem like a terrible idea, coating a pig in a dairy product in the heat of summer? What gives, Mrs. Fern's-aunt-whose-name-escapes-me?
My very favorite part to write is the discussion section, where I get to be Queen of the World with my Idea Scepter, telling my hypothetical subjects how it ought to be. I am only a temporary Queen of the World, because the reviewers are probably going to disagree with some of my vision. (Maybe I should biff them with my Idea Scepter next time. Who needs a scholarly community when you can have brute force instead? Concussion, not persuasion!) It always feels a little intimidating when I think about writing the discussion, where I have to spell out clearly why my paper matters without over-extrapolating from my data. But once I get the ball rolling it's a delight.
Tomorrow I have to finish the introduction, along with one last discussion paragraph that occurred to me right before I needed to leave today. It's maybe a little weird to write the beginning last, but it works for me. I have to add standard deviations to a table of descriptive statistics, and plunk in some references, and send it off to my GA for proofreading.
I am so lucky to have a job where I get paid to be curious. Wish me luck!