Slice and Dice
In some ways, the cutting is not all that hard. I put an uncut version of the manuscript in a separate directory before starting to cut, so that nothing is actually lost. I expect to use a lot of what I'm cutting in conference papers and articles, so I am not feeling too sentimental about leaving out valuable data.
On the other hand, I'm reluctant to remove anything I might still want to use in the dissertation itself, so this makes the process slower. Yesterday I had every intention of chopping out a page of chronology notes about the formation of the Prague surrealist group, but when it came right down to it I had that feeling that I still needed it sitting in the text where I could easily refer to it. Decisions like that meant that instead of chopping the desired 10 pages or so from the chapter, the result was only 2. They will, however, eventually go. And my account of the Prague surrealist group in the 1930s is considerably improved over what it was yesterday morning.
It does irk me, I confess, that our spring semester ends at the start of May rather than in June. This means I have only two months left to finish all my edits and rewrites (deadline: March 1). It can be done and I intend that it will be done, but it will be a tiring endeavor.