Feeling good! I had a…

Feeling good! I had a tough time starting the trophy train paper but I finished it today! It took a bit of a turn into something else, but I’ll take the risk.

There’s a Twitter challenge (started this past Monday) by Jami Attenberg to write 1000 words a day for 14 days, and so far I’ve been able to meet that challenge. The difficulty with meeting that challenge begins Wednesday (today, since I’m up late) because of errands, PowerPoints, and the like. And then I’m overseas for a week. Let’s see what happens!

So both my papers are done for my trip, with PowerPoints to do. Hoping to get those done tomorrow afternoon after a morning full of errands, then finish a book review and some job applications.


June 9: Success!

I’m officially a little bit lost in what day we’re on in this challenge but I will check Bill’s posts to figure out the number of days I need to make up. I wanted to be able to write 500 words a day on average on essay, book, and blog projects (exempting job applications, which do take some time).

I had been lagging but accomplished an entire draft of one of papers I will be giving in Leeds in several weeks. This paper, on the One Hour Dress, a fad in home sewing in the 1920s, is based on research and programming several colleagues and I undertook when I was at the MSU Museum. One of us, an expert seamstress, worked through the One Hour Dress system (not a pattern) and actually made a dress in 47 minutes in front of an audience. Lots of fun, but in making the dress we learned about its construction and that led us to find a historic one-hour dress in the Museum’s collection.

I took the lead in revising this paper for this conference and I am using this opportunity to integrate the paper’s three sections (each written by one person) and to add research and a more thoughtful interpretation of the dress. It was the original “fast fashion,” in that it was made quickly, but it was made with very, very little waste, so it serves as a timely lesson about sustainability and the fashion industry’s impact on climate change.

It’s been a good step to take, because we do wish to publish this paper. Having a conference for which to prepare does help the process along!

So, I may be cheating here, but I’m claiming 3100 words (hoping footnotes count), especially since I lost everything I wrote on Saturday.

Last Thursday, I outlined my trophy train paper and drafted an introduction of 250 words. Ready to go on that tomorrow. I would like to have both papers done, with only PowerPoints to prepare, by Friday, 14 June.

Day 5

I’ve been skipping my writing hours–nephew here for the long weekend, my birthday on Tuesday, and a reminder of my previous employer’s perfidy on Wednesday, and I spent more time tending to other, more active stuff to be sociable and then to get my mind off bad memories. But today it’s back to writing: I desperately need to finish an overdue book review and get started on my trophy train paper.  Goals are set. Let’s go!

With this writing group as…

With this writing group as a spur and a support I am setting my goals rather high this summer writing season. I proposed two papers at two different conferences and both were accepted–for the same weekend! So I will be traveling to Leeds, England, on 24 June, taking the train from there to Edinburgh, Scotland, to deliver a paper on World War I trophy trains. Then back to Leeds the next day to deliver a co-written paper on the “One-Hour Dress,” a popular home sewing project introduced in 1923.

My colleagues and I have already delivered a version of the “One-Hour Dress” paper at a regional Costume Society of America conference. The Leeds conference is on “Everyday Fashion” so we are taking the opportunity to update the paper and then submit it to a scholarly journal. So this revision shouldn’t take too long and I may just travel to undertake an in-person writing session with my former colleagues at Michigan State University.

The trophy trains (also called “war relics trains”) paper is the one I need to draft in the next several days–20 minutes, 10 pages, 2000-2500 words. I’ve an outline but I’m one of those types who thinks through writing so the outline tends to go by the wayside fairly early in the process. I have found absolutely no scholarship on this topic; I’m looking forward to receiving advice about next steps after it’s written. The United States government outfitted flat cars and a box car full of war relics taken from the German army on European battlefields. The trains also displayed the American doughboy’s kit, showing that loan dollars were keeping him as safe and comfortable as possible. In a way, too, the trains’ contents matched so, so many private collections of war materiel sent back to the US by soldiers. Some of those objects ended up in museum collections.

Trophy trains were basically rolling museums, and they were used to raise funds in the 3rd, 4th, and last Liberty Loan drives. Importantly the trains carried returning veterans of the Allied forces, ready to speak about the need for funds to finish the war and “bring the boys home.” All these veterans were wounded in battle, and especially in the last loan drive urged people to give to establish long-term support and retraining of the wounded. Early on I thought it would make a great stage play: wounded allies surrounded by objects of battle; those objects raising memories; the many stops along the way in which town representatives are way too boosterish or nosy or selfish; the meaning of friendship-making through shared experience.

From newspaper accounts I’ve mapped the trophy trains routes (there were two trains per Federal Reserve district). If you are interested, you may see the map here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1c9vFSyQPHNWqgntzuM5-H5pMqTg&usp=sharing

I’d like to work a little more on this paper to turn it into a scholarly article, but I am also thinking that it could be a chapter in a book about the circulation and meaning of World War I relics.

Happy writing!