Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Angst on the Horizon

Don't worry - I'm not done with posting about my trip (and I shall post some pics in the coming days) - but I thought I'd interrupt my regularly scheduled reports about my glamorous world-traveling with the mundane details of what's going on with me work-wise. To be honest, this evening, absolutely nothing is going on with me work-wise. And nothing has been going on with me work-wise since the early days of July, when I finished my conference paper and delivered it. Now, I know that this was the right thing to do. You know that you have a reputation of being a ridiculous workaholic (and may in fact be a ridiculous workaholic) when at an academic conference various people keep repeating that you "deserve" a vacation when you tell them about your upcoming travels. And I did deserve a break, and I took it. But now it is time to pay the piper. And oh, I shall pay dearly.

The major thing is final revisions on the book manuscript. There's work I need to get done on that in the next three weeks when I'm not teaching that I absolutely cannot put off until after the semester begins. I need solid time - time to explore big ideas and to flesh out difficult passages from one idea to the next. That's not the kind of work I can do easily in fits and starts. I know this about myself, and I accept it. I also know that over the past three spring breaks I've managed to force myself into that dedicated working time, with good results, and so I have faith that I can do so over the next three weeks as well. Well, or I'm trying to have faith that I can do that. So what do I need to do in the next three weeks for the book?

  • Massive amounts of reading. I need to flesh out some sections of the manuscript and make connections to texts that I don't currently discuss. This sounds more gargantuan a task than it is, actually, but I don't want to underestimate the work that lies before me, so I'm erring on the side of overestimation.
  • Once those massive amounts of reading are completed (with the taking of extensive notes as I go), I will complete revisions on the intro chapter, chapter two, chapter three, and the final chapter, weaving in bursts of new material and smoothing out the transitions from one idea to the other. These are the most substantive of the revisions that lie before me, and if I can get them done by the first week of classes, I will be GOLDEN.
  • Talk to my editor about some logistical stuff related to the book.
The problem is, these aren't the only things I need to accomplish between now and the start of school. I also must:
  • Complete revisions based on a reader's report for an essay I'm doing for a collection. These revisions are fairly (ok, totally) substantive. It's not that the reviewer hated my essay. It's that the reviewer sort of wanted me to write a totally different essay than the one that I wrote. And so now, well, I need to find a way to write a totally different essay from the one that I wrote while retaining the substance of the essay that I did write, while still maintaining a reasonable length. This, my friends, shall not be easy. I should add, however, that I think the essay will be better for all of this finagling.
  • Complete syllabi. Now, I've got reassigned time (yet again, so thank you, talisman of my blog name), so I have but three classes to teach in the fall. Three preps. Three syllabi that are not yet ready. I want to die.
  • Unpack my office. Remember how I had the office recarpeted and had to pack up the whole thing? Yeah, I never unpacked. I feel that this may be something that does not get done before the end of Fall semester.
You may also be wondering whether I plan to have a personal life during the insanity that is the next month or two. (I won't list off all the things that will happen after Sept. 1, as that would be too overwhelming and depressing to list right at this juncture.) Well, remember that Fake Boyfriend of mine? He's still around, though I'm not sure in what capacity. On the one hand, a fake boyfriend is perfect for my current circumstances. I mean, the fake boyfriends, they really are quite convenient. None of the angst that comes with real boyfriends, and not as much of a time commitment. That said, do I want to have a long-term fake relationship? (This has already been going on for 3-ish months.) That seems supremely stupid. I fear that FB and I will have to enter the real in some fashion sooner rather than later, as I'm not a supremely stupid person. Either that or we'll need to scale the whole thing back to a friend thing (which would be disappointing, I'll admit, and yet I'd survive, as would my friendship with the FB). Deciding about these things is complicated by the FB's situation as well (and FB, I am not being passive-aggressive here, just descriptive, so no, there will not be a need to call me out on the passive-aggressive blog-posting, nor is there a need for you to think about anything related to me other than that I am in your world and that the fact that I am in your world and you're in mine is a positive thing and whatever will be will be, and sooner or later we'll talk about it and figure it out, etc.) and so who knows on the FB score. Otherwise? Shit, I've got too much work to do to think about adding to the personal life in any brand new thing sort of fashion, so unless something current materializes or unless I have some sort of a blast from the past thing enter, I'll be going to a great many movies and meals with BFF and doing some colleague-type socializing and perhaps shall hang with Naomi a bit and that will be that through the end of the year. For, you see, after MLA (and after the book is delivered, which is right before), my plan is to do absolutely nothing research-wise for approximately 6 months. That will be the time for new things, should I need new things to transpire.

But then there's the possibility that I'll send out some job stuff this year. If there's anything good, I certainly will. I'm not yet willing to commit to where I am, so if there's anything appetizing, I shall apply, in spite of the fact that I have no time and no energy for such ventures. Ah well. A girl only lives once. And I'm a girl who believes in pursuing possibilities, even if they don't pan out. One learns from the pursuit, if nothing else. (This philosophy of life is probably why I'm not married, it occurs to me.)

So yes, all of this is what shall produce angst in the coming weeks and months. I know you care terribly, but it does help to write it all out, and to write it all out for an audience as opposed to for myself in the journal, in which I have the pesky tendency to devolve into unadulterated whining (and if you think this here is whining, you have absolutely no idea.)

And now, since you have read through all of this ruminating, I shall reward you with a picture from my trip. This was taken in Wales, and tragically I don't think you really see the gorgeous shafts of light that were coming out of the sky onto the view below. That said, I am in love with Wales. Yes, in love with the whole place. In a way that I have never been in love with a place in my life, and no, not even in the way that I am in love with Italy. It is so beautiful and lovely that I don't know why we all don't live there. Seriously.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi Crazy --

Same thing here, and I don't even have Wales for an excuse. I do have a number of other excuses, but they all add up to the same thing: very little work accomplished.

I have the next week to frantically finish revisions on an article (like yours, semi-substantive), before I dive into two weeks of pre-moving angst.


But hey! Wales sure is pretty.

Shaun Huston said...

Welcome back. Re: the book chapter. I've found the "you should write the paper I would have written" critique to be depressingly common in peer review situations. I wonder why that is. Are people protecting turf (especially in the realm of theory)? Maybe the process presumes too much about what researchers and writers who work in the same general areas have in common. When I am on the other side, I try very hard to ask myself what a person is trying to do and then ask a) whether it's worth doing and b) how well they've done it. Assuming that point a) checks out, I try to evaluate others' work as much as possible on its own terms, and not in terms of what I would have done with the same topic. There is always room to suggest new references or to point out gaps and silences, but, even then, I think that those can be kept relevant to what a paper is and not what it might have been if the author had only decided to write about something else entirely.

Horace said...

I, too, returned to crazy loads of work on my return from 3 weeks of dilly-dallying. It's hard, but at least you'll have Wales to daydream about.

I'm halfway through revisions of this article I've been working on all summer, and what I am doing? Blog surfing! Hope you have better luck than I do!

life_of_a_fool said...

Is a few months really that long for a fake-relationship?? hmmm, I seem to have gone on **much** longer that that. Which may have been stupid, in retrospect, at yet served its purposes well enough at the time. . .Of course, it's very like that I am a supremely stupid person, and definitely not one from whom to take relationship advice, so. . .
And Wales is lovely.