I recently got to a point in a couple of papers I've been working on where the most appropriate thing was to let them rest for a while and allow the dust in my mind to settle around them. I started thinking about what to work on next, and I thought that maybe the thing to do would be to polish up a key section from my dissertation. The section I'm thinking of is the section I should publish if I don't publish anything else from my dissertation; where I make the central argument for the central conclusion.
One nice thing about this kind of writing is that I've already done most of the legwork. I won't have to do much extra reading to acquaint myself with the literature, or spend much time trying to orient myself within the conceptual space. I've already got a pretty polished "rough draft" to work from. And I've already got a few new ideas about how to strengthen and buttress the argument.
So I'm looking at it, thinking about how to reorganize it, how to structure it, and where to modify or cut text. How the new ideas are going to fit in. And I'm thinking about how boring this is and how much I have no interest in actually doing it. At best, I would like to have already done it. But I don't want to do it. At all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of my dissertation. I think it's a pretty good one. I'm glad I did it. But there's hardly anything in it I wouldn't do at least a little differently if I had to do it over again. As I said before, one of the most stunning things I learned when I was preparing for my defense was how effective dissertating was at making me a better philosopher. But now that I am that better philosopher, I don't much feel like going back and revising that old stuff. Even though I still think I was right. One of the greatest things about not being a dissertator is that I don't have to do it over again.
But then I wonder, does not mining your dissertation send a signal? Or does mining too late send the same signal as mining for too long? Am I in a situation where if I'm going to do it, I had better do it now? Because maybe then I would go ahead and do it now.