May 25, 2012

The Final Journey

Okay, it's not really the final journey, but it is the last leg of the journey that started this blog. The blog will continue when I'm done writing my dissertation. But while I'm finishing it up, the blog languishes. For some strange reason, changing the top bar daily has enabled me to focus and get into my writing better. So I'm going to keep doing that, but wanted to post the progress bars that went before, just for my own anal-retentiveness.

The first bar: Before I tried procrastinating with a new top bar, I was just letting the blog sit idle. That worried me, as I knew it wouldn't communicate that I was on hiatus. So I made this one quickly last week.

I had a number of airships that I stole off the web, but I liked this junker the best. If I was running a steampunk RPG, I'd be driving that baby and smuggling stuff. The original image, Tugboat, is by Ian McQue, who has some of the best steampunk visions I've seen.

The second bar: No longer feeling adrift, since I'd reached my page count the day before, I was "gaining confidence." The airship has moved a tiny bit toward the far side of the image.

You might notice that the sky has changed colour. I overlaid a blue sky with fluffy clouds, which should become the dominant sky as the end approaches.

This was the day I got several requests for interviews. I was metaphorically "blown off course," distracted by prepping for the interviews, especially the televised one. "What to wear? What to wear?" I had also lost several pages to reorganizing a chapter the day before, so I needed to visualize the lightning and wind to get my focus. You may also notice the docking tower coming into view on the right side of the image.

Coming out of the interview storm (still have the televised one to do), and ready to write my allotted pages for the day. Need to get done this damn chapter on methodology and theory so I can get to the three elements of the aesthetic.

Got into the discussion of "punk" in steampunk, and the erroneous assumption even some scholars have made that "real" steampunk must contain a punk ethos. Found Christine Ferguson's "Surface Tensions: Steampunk, Subculture, and the Ideology of Style" an invaluable partner in this conversation. The combination of anger at lazy academics and delight at Ferguson's article produced many pages. I did some retouching to the airship so it would look more natural in the image. The lightning it clearly behind us, and the ship continues advancing.

 I was about to return Political Science Fiction, edited by Donald M. Hassler and Clyde Wilcox, to the MacEwan library, unable to recall why I'd checked it out in the first place. I scanned the table of contents, and focused on the word aesthetics in Patrick Novotny's chapter, "No Future! Cyberpunk, Industrial Music, and the Aesthetics of Postmodern Disintegration." It contained a section on bricolage and detournement that fit very nicely with the ambivalent positions Rob Latham set up for nostalgia and regret in retrofuturism, which fueled another great day of writing. I just missed passing the half-way point this day.

 The second chapter is in, but as I enter the third on Neo-Victorianism, I'm worried about making it to the end by June 15. Hard to stay on track. Graduate school is a marathon, not a race. Must endure!

Rough day. Writing the Neo-Victorian chapter proved more work than I'd initially thought. Made good use of Lansdale's steampunk books in this section, surprisingly. Still made good time. Need to ascertain what the difference is between meaningless bricolage and meaningful detournement as they regard neo-Victorianism.

Went a few days without needing this image-work to focus. Neo-Victorian chapter is nearly finished. Felt a little cheeky today, as you can tell. I don't think I'm going to make the June 15 deadline, but I'll be done by the end of the month for sure.

I knew the Technofantasy chapter was going to be the easiest to put together, but the first big chunk really blew me away insofar as how much was already written. I can see the end in sight now, and blue sky is creeping into the picture.

More blue sky. Technofantasy continues on track. Yeah, another pun like "full steam ahead."

While the image says Crew Morale is "Ebulient," that's just the crew: the Captain (my deep self, we might say), went into this week frightened of being unable to cross the finish line in time. While today is already proving very productive, there's still miles to go. And the Hindenburg exploded as it was docking, for heaven's sake!

Am writing the Technofantasy and Retrofuturism chapters somewhat in tandem, but Technofantasy is nearly done, while Retrofuturism needs another 6-8 pages. The conclusion awaits, as does the final crack at the Works Cited list. Hoping to finish the content this week and work on revisions next week.

Bringing this thing in to land proves more difficult than flying the entire journey. It's all about establishing flow and transitions. Little bitsy moves. Reverse thrusters, then forward, then up, then down. 28 pages to go, but it feels like the bloody moon.

I didn't update the image for two days - one painfully sluggish day, followed by a "holy shit look at how fast I'm writing/revising/editing" day, which left me with 6 works cited pages to edit on the final day. Barring an act of God, this will be turned in on the day my advisor said it should be to make it all happen in time.

The introduction and conclusion needed less work than I'd anticipated, so as it turns out, I brought it in on time. Now, the detail work begins - formatting the works cited list and working on the revisions I get from my advisors. Compared to the work done, this will be a small effort. The big job is over.

Keep checking back for further updates!


  1. Haha, that's a great way to express how things in life are going! Love the little train;)

  2. Best of luck on your dissertation! Do you plan on returning to Kim Newman's Hound of the d'Urbervilles when you have time? (I noticed it was on your intial plan at the start of the year, but isn't on the new timeline.) I would definitely be interested in looking at it from a steampunk point-of-view, especially since Newman plays on so many of the sci-fi and adventure novels and tropes that steapunk has adopted.

  3. Yes, I'll be doing Hound of the d'Ubervilles for certain - possibly even this year! The schedule shifts as release dates move, and also as I'm reconsidering how busy I want to be post dissertation.


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