I submitted a paper om my mathematical modeling class to a special issue of PRIMUS: Problems, Resources and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies. The special issue is on writing and editing in mathematics classes, especially if it is something other than proof-writing, which is exactly what I do.
I was thinking I would write a 10 page paper. My first draft was 14 pages. I had 20 after a week worth of feedback and editing. I was cutting stuff out every place I could!
I was writing about writing, or meta-writing, and I did my best (after some feedback) to stick to writing about the writing and editing in the course. What I do, why I do it, what students should be learning from it. How the topic of mathematical modeling demands it. It is strange to realize how many considerations go in to each major assignment for the course; I didn’t capture even half of it. If I were to try to really put it all in there, I would have a book! Maybe I could write a book about mathematical modeling … or about teaching mathematical modeling.
As a teacher of writing, and one with ambitions to avoid hypocrisy, I had to follow the advice I give to my students. All-in-all, I decided that it is pretty good advice. While I put off getting started on the paper all semester long (not good), I still had about 3 weeks to work on the paper before it had to be handed in (good enough). I wrote almost every day, even just a little bit, writing at least several times a week. I had a first draft done on Monday. I needed to hand the final in on Friday. I sent it to several friends/colleagues and got feedback. Thank you, friends and colleagues who were able to find time to offer feedback. Thank you too, to those who didn’t find time — I didn’t have time to deal with any more comments! I thought about what the comments, and I worked on what I could. I think I ended with a stronger paper than I started with. I fricking hope so! I was up past midnight on Thursday working on it. Friday I read the whole thing out loud to myself in my office. I, indeed, caught a lot of spelling/grammar/sentence structure errors that way. Around noon I was at a point of fixing those last errors and handing it in. So I did.
Now I have to cross those fingers and hope that the trip through peer-review is not too bumpy.
I did it. Toward the end of the semester, I doubted I would get this done. But I did get it done. How did I eat that elephant? As advised, one bite at a time.