Thursday, January 9, 2014

Writing for Publication Fears

It is finally here--the last semester of coursework before I conquer comprehensive exams, submit a proposal, conduct research, write a dissertation, defend the dissertation, and finish.  So perhaps the end is not really in sight at all.  The strange thing is I am more worried about successfully completing one of my classes this semester than I have been about coursework since my first few weeks in the literacy program.  As a qualitative researcher, I would have thought statistics might rank as the biggest scare, but it so far has not come close to what I fear in "Writing for Publication."

In this class, we are expected to submit a polished manuscript to a journal (in addition to reading, responding, discussing, etc.).  Why is this task so frightening?  In previous semesters, I have gathered data, coded, used data software, written memos, and summarized findings.  I have written literature reviews, compiled digital portfolios with extensive hyperlinks, and mindmapped my heart out.  I have submitted conference proposals (and presented), redesigned a course syllabus, and planned workshops.  The journey to this point has been rich with incredible learning experiences.  So what makes this class different?  The audience just got tougher.

First of all, I have no idea what my topic might be.  My inclination is to pick up a narrative I worked on last semester about co-teaching with a friend of mine.  Yet, even though it has embedded research, it is still a narrative which may not find a journal home.  Another thought is to flesh out the experiences of last summer's institute attendees as we begin planning for next summer.  This appeals to me right now in ways it didn't before I had to think about what to write for this class.

Next, I am not sure which journal I should woo.  Most familiar are Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Journal, Voices in the Middle, and Language Arts.  Others are probably more appropriate for what I will write, though.  I am not really interested in writing about strategies at this point but about experiences in particular learning conditions--especially the adult learners (teachers) during professional development.

All these obstacles will be overcome with time.  Fortunately, I know the professor pretty well.  She, along with the others in the class, will do what we always do in this PhD program--support and push.  I have already made progress in pushing away the fears of writing by, yes, writing.  My phantom audience has allowed me to voice my concern, list my strengths, and discuss some action items (thank you).  I feel the familiar release that writing gives me.  And for now the fog clears.