Thursday, September 10, 2009

One More Try?

A few years ago I was asked to contribute an essay to an edited volume on philosophical issues in procreation; I had written an earlier piece on the rights of unwed fathers, and the editors invited me to revisit the topic, updating and expanding what I had written in the light of the considerable recent literature. I agreed.

I wrote the piece, the editors reviewed it, they gave me lots of critical but helpful comments, and I revised it.

A year or two went by. The book was sent off to Oxford University Press for blind peer review. The reviewers sent their comments to the editors, who forwarded them on to the contributors. I could tell they pretty much hated mine. I have edited such volumes myself in my day, and I know how hard it is to have to drop one of the contributed essays, especially after the author wrote it especially for that purpose, so I most kindly and generously told the editors that I would be fine with being dropped. Indeed, at that point, I was hoping they would drop me. I wouldn’t have to struggle with revising the piece! I could give up and get on with the rest of my life!

They said they did want the piece for the volume and urged me to do my best in addressing the reviewer’s critique.

So I did. I had my grad student research assistant read the essay and give me further comments and suggestions for how to make the reviewer happy. But I didn’t end up doing very much by way of revision. Frankly, I wasn’t sure HOW to make that very unhappy reviewer happy. S/he just didn’t seem like a very happy person. Or at least reading my essay didn’t make him/her very happy. I made a few small changes and sent it back, saying, this is the best I can do, and remember I will be thrilled if you just drop me from the project altogether. Well, I didn’t quite say that, but I certainly reminded them that if they dropped my piece I’d go on living. And singing and dancing.

Well, I just heard back from the editors. The reviewer still hates my chapter but thinks it can be fixed SO EASILY if I just do x, y, and z. So now I have to decide: give this one more try? If I’m really so close to having a publishable article? The philosophy department gave me a gentle hint last year via my annual performance review that I do need to keep producing publishable articles. Or should I just decide that enough is enough: why throw good money (time) after bad? Why not devote the same time, energy, and effort to doing something I’m actually good at, like writing a children’s book?

But I know I’ll give this one more try. I’m basically a one-more-try kind of person. So this weekend that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll at least try to give it one more try.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read "Ziggy's Blue Ribbon Day" lately? There's a very good message in that book!--Carol Linda