I met with a lawyer friend today to talk about my note. (Remember that?) The thing is languishing in academic limbo. It's supposed to satisfy my upper division writing requirement, but I haven't heard a peep from the evaluating faculty on whether it does in its current form.
Meanwhile, I'm interested in making any improvements necessary in anticipation of getting it published somewhere, so it was worthwhile to hear my friend's thoughts.
He gave me lots of feedback on the legal issues that I need to incorporate. And he also gave me some structural feedback:
Pretend you're representing one side in a suit, he said. What arguments would you press, and what ones would you expect you'd need to deflect?
Sounds obvious, right? Well, NOW it does. But it's the first time anyone ever described note writing in those terms to me. It would have been really helpful had someone said the same thing to me a year ago. Some guidance, you know - so I wasn't left to my own devices to flounder around until I happened to figure out note-writing on my own. (A hardly likely event - a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters in a thousand years would not manage to write a good note, and neither would I without some instruction.)
I don't really want to lambaste peer-edited writing projects altogether: I imagine they can be very positive experiences. But they are entirely contingent on the efforts put in by the upperclassmen giving the advice. I didn't get much of that. To some extent it wasn't their fault - there was a period when I got behind, and I let my note editor off the hook until I got caught up. But even when I did, ultimately I never heard from him. And the one set of comments I got from the editor in charge of the process had one helpful bit, but then was otherwise preoccupied by how often I split my infinitives. If I don't cert (get academic credit for the paper) because I split infinitives I'm going to raise hell. It's not even a rule anymore that you can't!
Anyway, I'm grateful for the great help I've gotten from my friends but very frustrated by the process. As well as stressed about how much work will still be required to make this thing what I really want it to be.