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Continuing with this writing challenge has been a mixed experience.

I really pushed myself to get something together for my deadline on Monday. I’m not proud of what I send to my readers, but at least I can put that aside and turn back to another chapter that needs work. I really want to submit a conference abstract for this chapter in January, so getting this worked out now is really important.

Today’s task is to rework the chapter outline. My previous thesis didn’t get me far enough in my analysis of the icon: I argued that the materiality of the revetted icon reflected  the materiality of the Virgin as the source of Christ’s humanness. I don’t think there is much controversy about the Christology and Virgin’s role in the incarnation, although I struggled to find sources contemporary with the icon to show that the Virgin’s human nature was even of interest to anyone in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. But arguing that the icon is a representation of this theological debate is a tricky perspective to take. I am usually dubious of other author’s claims that an icon maker or patron had these kinds of lofty, theological intentions when producing an icon and its decoration.

Somehow I want to shift the focus to a more broad examination of material culture and the values embedded in the materials used on this work.  I really hope I can formulate an argument about the material agency of gilded silver.

Maintaining momentum with the AcWriMo program is hard, but not impossible. I’m able to sustain my productivity by switching between different kinds of work: from typing in Word to scribbling on paper. Taking breaks, setting my timer, keeping my emotions at bay—all these help.

I trust the process.

When in doubt, I step back to reflect on my outline and argument.

This chapter will get done and I can do it.

Meanwhile, I need to remember that my happiness comes from the real things in life like spending time with my son and husband.  This dissertation is just a job, just something I do day in and day out even when I feel discouraged. Yesterday in a moment of exasperation, I quipped to a friend that it’s no wonder dissertations get us down: the process means enduring years of constructive criticism. Who wants to do that?