Another anti-Boicean post

What I want to say to someone who, when I said I had finished my essay in a triumphant six-hour final stretch, said I should not have written for that long and should have read Boice:

I suppose that if you had a lot of free time in college and graduate school, and you had forgiving professors, you could turn in things that had been thrown together in a marathon session and get good grades on them. If you wrote your dissertation on a fellowship and had nothing else to do during that time, you might think you need “large blocks of time” in which to work. This way, you might become a faculty member who needed the Boicean advice.

But Boice is about time management, really, not project design or project management, and there is much about every project, including whether it is the one you want and how to negotiate with reviewers and presses, that Boice does not discuss. He does not pretend to answer every research question. Every time I have a research question, though, someone throws Boice at me, and every time I finish something by working to the end in some six-hour writing stretch, someone shakes their finger at me and brings up Boice.

When people mention his name I feel as though I have been punched, and want to gather a lot of his books together and burn them. I also visualize killing the person who brought up Boice with a blow to the head, and sinking them in the river.

“Let’s talk about Boice” means, to me, (1) I will not discuss your research or project design question, or how to negotiate. As far as I am concerned, you have an assignment and you should complete it. (2) Any problem you have, including judging the project to be larger than the time allotted, is a matter of discipline. Enforce more rigorous discipline and you will see that you do have time. This means you are supposed to work on the project without taking ownership of it, or of yourself. Telling someone that is poor teaching.

I am just doomed. If I rest, people say I am procrastinating, and if I get work done, they say I worked too hard. Nobody ever just says: great! So I will simply refuse to speak, I think. Or laugh at them.





Filed under What Is A Scholar?

3 responses to “Another anti-Boicean post

  1. Z

    A different fragment:

    What I object to is something I have experienced and seen a lot of: people trying to use Boice to solve problems he never claimed to. And I do have a history, for some reason, of people using Boice to complain at me if I did anythng off their read of Boice: oh, you did research today and did not write a thing? BAD! Oh, you wrote for more hours than would be wise or feasible on a daily basis? BAD! So for me, Boice is the enemy of independence, adulthood, pleasure in work, and so on. But mostly, my issues have to do with people alleging, via Boice, that project design issues are just time management issues, or that research is procrastination, and so on — I have patiently listened to far too much of that. And look: this is the guy who wants people to git it done, and my piece is done. And I had been working on it for quite some time, and I had a draft of the last section, and that was why it was so exciting to see it all crystal clear and want to push straight on through.

  2. notofgeneralinterest2

    Talk about judgmental colleagues! If you can keep writing when you’re excited about something, that’s the best part, isn’t it? And why would they care how you get it done as long as you get it done?

  3. meansomething

    Then I’ll say it: Great! Those long stretches in which one works like a woman possessed can be just wonderful. Like finally getting to spend stretches of time with one’s beloved after weeks of brief kisses good morning and good night.

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