I’m ensconced in my hotel room in Richmond, where I’ll be delivering a paper at ASECS 2009 tomorrow afternoon. Unless my dance card winds up much fuller than planned, I’m hoping to do a bit of blogging while I’m here. But don’t fret–no live-blogging academic panels. This blog is tedious enough as it is, fabrication of Eliotana notwithstanding.

I have my paper basically where it needs to be. As it stands it’ll run a little long, but I’m going to sit down with a pen and hack away sentences and phrases at random until it fits into the allotted time. I really only need another paragraph or so to come off, and, let’s be honest: this is my writing. It isn’t more durable than bronze. It isn’t for the ages. If there’s one sentence in ten that’s worth being read twice, I’ll be as surprised as anyone else.

Delivering conference papers is an art that I cannot claim to have mastered yet. Too few details, and you tend to get somewhat incredulous comments, on the order of, “Funny, how come you didn’t mention X?” (Or ignored.) Too many, and you tend to bore people with minutiae without arriving at a more general conclusion. I always hear rumors of people who can write them on the plane, or in the hotel room, but everyone I know has been working on them for at least a few weeks. If that’s actually true, that people can write decent conference papers without effort, I’m going to curl myself up in a ball of seething envy.

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