Friday, December 08, 2006

Subject: Decision on your Manuscript XXX-D-05-021NNR1

To: Katie
From: [Journal folks]
Date: Thursday, December 7, 2006 11:07 PM
Subject: Decision on your Manuscript XXX-D-05-021NNR1

XXX-D-05-021NNR1
[Title of paper I thought would be accepted]
[My name]
[Carrie, η, Grad Advisor]

Dear Dr. [Me]:

We are pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been accepted for publication in [their journal]. Your paper has now been sent to Production and any further correspondence--including proofs and copyright information--will be with the Log-In and Production departments.

If you have any questions regarding your accepted manuscript in production, please do not hesitate to contact Author Support at authorsupport@elsevier.com.

Congratulations!

Best wishes,
Editorial Office for [name removed] Journals



To: Carrie, η, Grad Advisor
From: Katie
Date: Friday, December 8, 2006, 1:14AM
Subject: FW: Decision on your Manuscript XXX-D-05-021NNR1

Yay! Little [project nickname] is finally going to see publication!

I'll send proofs and citation information when it's available. [Journal] isn't exactly setting the world on fire with the speed it displays in the review process, so I'm sort of expecting the paper to sit with Production for some time as well. :)

Thanks, Katie


I shouldn't have to fake excitement over an acceptance email, I mused, sitting on the loveseat after waking in the middle of the night. I'd been asleep for hours already when I wanted to check on the Chienne. She'd been limping badly before bed – refusing to put any weight on her left front leg. She typically improves quickly, but I was concerned nonetheless.

She wagged her tail at me and I talked to her for a moment before messing with her leg. She allowed me to move it around, sighing just a bit at my peculiarity. I covered her with a blanket and opened Nick to see what was up with the outside world.

My stomach – used to receiving rejection - clenched tightly when I saw the subject line. I'd fully expected them to accept the paper – the comments had been completely addressed and we'd even made some extra improvements. It's a good paper. But hearing they didn't want to print the work at this late stage would deliver a large blow and it wasn't something I expected to hear right now.

But the news was good. After glancing at the first congratulatory line, I wrote to the coauthors to share our good fortune. Then I wondered why I didn't care at all. Frowning, I rubbed my stomach soothingly. "We're OK." I told it. "Try to be happy." But it – along with my heart and brain – stubbornly refused to do anything much at all. I read the email again and waited for some emotional response.

"Nicely written email." Brain finally offered. "Maybe we could go back to bed now."

Brain was busy arguing with itself a few hours later.

"Good morning, sunshine!" One side chirped, insisting I roll to look at the clock. Almost 5. I should probably get up.

"Sleep." Mumbled the majority of my brain. "It's nice and warm here, but cold and dark out there. We can get ready in 15 minutes. Sleep until 5:30 or 5:45 and we can still leave by 6."

But that way lay certain defeat, and I didn't want to miss this particular experiment. So I wiggled out of bed – dog cuddled to my right side, cat on the left – and brushed my teeth. As I gulped cold coffee, I allowed my caffeine-inspired attention to drift to the computer again. No new email, few new bloglines feeds. So I picked up some clutter, put a few plates in the dishwasher and dealt with the dog and cat – feeding, cleaning, watering. Then I left the house early – about 10 minutes to 6.

Arriving on campus after I speedy commute (people who leave home before 6AM do not screw around. I adore them and wish we could always be best friends. Alas, they get up too early.), I secured an excellent parking spot and decided to walk to the office.

It's impressively cold here the past couple of days. I wore a jacket and actually used the gloves I'd tucked in its pockets. I could see not only my breath as I moved briskly across the still dark sidewalks, but steam also poured from the drainage grates near the curb. As my face and ears went numb and my legs – pretty, but largely unprotected in my dark brown slacks – grew uncomfortably cold, I smiled.

It's like my southern state heard a rumor about what winter was really like – gray skies, cold temperatures, biting wind, snow falling from the sky. Then it looked to its northern counterparts and said sweetly, "Look! I can do that too!" I am, of course, suitably proud.

Of the weather. Not my paper.

To be honest, I'd forgotten all about it until I woke my pretty computer at the office and dealt with email while I ate some yogurt. Arriving early had allowed me time to settle in before leaving for our scheduled experiment.

To: Mom @ work
From: Katie
Date: Friday, December 8, 2006, 6:32AM
Subject: FW: Decision on your Manuscript XXX-D-05-021NNR1


Hi Mom,

My paper got accepted - the one I thought would do fine after revision. It'll probably be awhile until it comes out, but it's officially in.

I'm not happy so much as relieved, but I'm also pretty moody. So I'll feel more like celebrating in another couple of days.

Love you lots and lots, Katie


More careful consideration revealed that I wasn't really relieved at all. Just…numb. And though my nose and ears were defrosting quite nicely, my heart stayed stubbornly silent.

To: Friend
From: Katie
Date: Friday, December 8, 2006, 6:39AM
Subject: FW: Decision on your Manuscript XXX-D-05-021NNR1

I got up at 1, saw the subject line and cursed though I'd expected they'd take the revisions. It's not a bad paper at all. But I read it - a very nice acceptance letter - and felt absolutely nothing. Vague relief, I guess, but not happy at all. Am I dead inside? Do I really need to get out of research? Because apart from getting grants, aren't papers supposed to make me the happiest?

Very moody, but on campus after a numbing walk in (I'm much happier about how cold it is than the paper!) and eating my yogurt before the scan.

I think there's something wrong with me.

Katie

Concerned, I did what I do to cope. I started a blog post with the emails I'd written so far. It was shortly time to leave my warm office, carefully decorated with photos of people I love, pretty pens and pencils in a ceramic pot, my little bear holding a flower and a thriving violet plant. So I went, I scienced, I learned. I returned to speak to Boss about general grant strategies, remaining blessedly numb. I'll write it, but I don't care. It fails to generate any emotion at all – not dread, not excitement - just a curious set of ideas of what to write, but as if I'd be doing it for someone else. It's as if it doesn't affect me at all, though in terms of professional life, it could provide an impact unlike anything else.

Bemused, I started to revise a protocol for CIL (Committee I Loathe) for no other reason than it's been on my list the longest because I don't want to do it. If I don't want to do anything, might as well get that out of the way. But I didn't work long before writing another email.

I'm sad, Charlie. I just feel impossibly heavy and bleak today. I'm not sure if it's just a mood blip that will pass quickly - because I've really been doing pretty well lately with Christmas coming - or if the cold that I love so much is getting to me or if I'm just tired. But one of my papers got officially accepted to [Journal title], which should be really fantastic and I feel absolutely nothing. Not happy, not really relieved. Just numb. So I'm wondering if I've conditioned myself not to care about this stuff anymore. I'm rewriting the grant and that's fine - Boss wants me to do it, so I'll do it. But I'd rather not get the money.

I really think the time is coming that I'm just going to opt out. I'm not sure how long to wait before admitting this just isn't working for me.

Or maybe it's just not such a great day. :) In which case, next week will be better.


It's actually not a bad day – that's my thought as I'm reading it again. It's quite good – eveything's going as well as could possibly be expected. I'm baking cookies with Cousin tomorrow and I love spending time with her. I'm being productive and everyone has been unfailing kind to me this morning, not that they normally aren't. But the feeling of being disconnected is as persistent as it is confusing. It's not how I normally am, but I'm somehow stuck.

It was on my walk back to the car, retracing the steps I'd taken that morning, that I realized I view my job a lot like that commute. Drive to work - walk to the office - work. Walk to the car - drive home - sleep. Repeat. It's all so futile, I decided. Think of something - do the experiment - write. Redo experiment/reanalyze data - rewrite. Receive yet another soul-crushing rejection - throw tantrum out of anger and/or sadness. Have ability to graduate withheld until paper gets accepted - have minor breakdown and leave anyway. Different paper accepted - weep with gratitude, graduate. Years pass - continue to rewrite - wait for 13 months for a review process. Revise again - get acceptance email.

Maybe it's no wonder there's nothing left to feel...

8 comments:

Dr. Lisa said...

Hey, but you got this one in. Woot!

EthidiumBromide said...

Sorry to hear that you are not excited about the paper acceptance, but congratulations are certainly in order... so... congrats!

Repressed Librarian said...

Yes, congratulations on this accomplishment. Even if you don't feel excited, it is something to be proud of.

JustMe said...

congrats, even though i am sorry you are not excited...

i don't have anything even remotely profound to say... maybe sometimes when we are burned out stuff like this doesn't seem so important, and maybe when other things are preoccupying us, that is also the case.

anyway, hope cookie baking and cousin time is fun! and gets your mind off this.

Psycgirl said...

Congratulations are in order, even if you're not excited at this point.

Do you think maybe you are too busy or too stressed to really appreciate the paper being accepted? Sometimes I get in these moods... they're hard to explain.. but its as if I'm too overworked and I'm thinking far ahead all of the time, so when something nice happens, I'm mentally thinking already of all the other things I have to do/work on/get done, so its not that exciting...

Lucy said...

I keep leaving your posts open for days because I feel very similarly and I want to say something profound and/or helpful. It never works though, so I'll just say congratulations on the paper and enjoy the cookie baking.

MapleMama said...

I really wanted to work in a dept. at my college - and interviewed for 3 different positions there before I finally got the position I currently hold.

At my 6 month review - my boss commented that at the 1st 2 interviews I seemed so excited, but although she had entirely planned to hire me for the current job, I seemed so much less enthusiastic in that interview.

I know this is not a complete parallel to your experience with your paper - but I think you can only hold enthusiasm for something for so long, and then after disappointment and time, when you finally do find succeed, it is lack-lustre.

Over time, though, I have become proud of my work in my job, and am certain, that once your paper is finally in print, you will feel more pride.

So, Congratulations - long overdue!!

ScienceWoman said...

I think maplemama is right on on this one - when something takes so long but the outcome is pretty certain, it's hard to maintain excitement. In any event, congratulations are certainly in order, as is a new line for your CV.

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