- Writing such papers is way better than grading.
- Since I will read the paper aloud, I don't have to perfect my footnotes and bibliography in impeccable MLA/Chicago/MHRA style.
- The papers are short. 10 pages. It's like writing a poem. It's long enough to be a challenge, but short enough that that I can spend a lot of time tinkering with it and practicing it aloud so that it will sound just right. Also, it's not as unwieldy as a chapter or article. I don't feel like I'm wrangling a giant squid.
- I can be playful. Although I want my argument to have substance, I feel like my voice can (and should?) be more conversational and informal that it would be in an article or, certainly, in my dissertation. Therefore, the writing feels a bit more creative and experimental.
- I am isolated as I write my PhD thesis. My university is in the UK, and I am in California at a community college. I work in my own little bubble. As such, I really enjoy conferences (even though they intimidate me a bit) because I like to hear what other people are saying, and I like having the chance to throw my own words out into the world.
- As I write, I regularly envision myself at the conference, in the hotel. I love staying in hotels.
The paper I'm currently writing is especially fun because I likely won't be presenting to a room full of eighteenth-century specialists. As much as I love my fellow c18 people, I feel great inferiority regarding my own knowledge of the c18. I am not yet an expert even though I feel like I already should be, so presenting to other c18 people scares me. But this conference is not an c18 conference, so I am a bit more relaxed.
Tonight, my family is camping, and I have stayed behind to finish a solid draft of the paper and do a bit of grading. I am having a great time writing (and ignoring the grading). My enjoyment is enhanced by my the three-course dinner that I will consume over a span of several hours:
First course: strawberry-rhubarb pie paired with English Breakfast tea
Second course: boiled peanuts paired with beer
Third course: dark chocolate paired with port
Good brain food, I'd say.
What about you? Do you like writing conference papers as much as I do?