For the last few days I have been finalising and editing a paper I am going to deliver at the Imbas conference in Galway next weekend. To say it has been frustrating is to put it mildly.
Admittedly, part of this is my fault. I should know by now that no matter how simple or straightforward a Bede paper appears, it is much more complicated than at first thought. Or, even if it turns out to be relatively straightforward, fitting it all into a 20-minute paper is another thing entirely. I seem to have a habit of picking big topics.
This paper focuses on Bede and the lay pastor. But it’s showing that they were needed because of a sense of a coming apocalypse. I know, I know. Me and apocalypses.
The only really frustrating side of this was fitting it into a 20-minute argument. There’s easily 6,000 words of an article in this, maybe more. At least with the paper it focuses me to get my thoughts together and condense the information into key points.
I found that I had the bones of the paper done in a couple of days: most of what I’m talking about is now second nature to me. But trawling through his exegesis and homilies slowed things considerably, and the process of being more selective in my quotations even more so.
When I write, I tend to write so that everything is necessary. If I’ve included background, it’s because I think it’s necessary in order for people to understand what I’m talking about. In this case, I’ve boiled the background down to its most basic points, although I feel it’s detailed enough to show the complexity of the situation. Whether my supervisor will agree is another thing; he may well feel that I’m expecting too much of the audience. My writing demands quite a bit of the reader, apparently, or at least it has in the section of the PhD I’ve put together for the department’s review process (i.e. a section that proves I’ve done a lot of work and know what I’m talking about).
I’ll post the abstract once the paper has been delivered, and I’ll also add a link to the podcast once that’s online.