So. I promised in my last post that I was going to do a longer post soon about the Next Book project. And I really do want to, except I totally don't. What I mean is that I'm just feeling sort of overwhelmed with the variety of tasks that I've got going on right now with work (Irritating (or just time-consuming) Service, Grading, other teaching-related things, recommendations for scholarships to write, general crankiness, etc.) and so I can't find it in me to put together something coherent about the book project. When I'm feeling coherent about it, I just want to work on it or think about it or whatever, and then when I think to write about it I'm not feeling coherent, if that makes sense.
But so anyway. I spend a lot of my time these days plotting and planning regarding the Next Book, most particularly because doing so allows me to fantasize about my upcoming summer free of teaching followed by sabbatical. This is not to say that I'm not excited about the NB project - I surely am - but I think I'm relating to it a little bit right now as a talisman that I can pull out and cling to whenever I want to punch people in the face for reasons related to all the other parts of my job. This is interesting, this feeling that NB is an escape.... I never really felt that about my dissertation/first book, for what are probably totally obvious reasons. This is not to say that I wasn't excited about the dissertation/first book, but my relationship to it was very different. It was more like this hurdle that had to be jumped, a mountain that had to be climbed, as opposed to being like an oasis in a desert of bureaucracy and nonsense (which, yes, is how my job is feeling these days).
And so when I'm feeling downtrodden, NB is like this bright and shiny thing about which I can feel excited. Of course, this also makes me feel anxious. What if I'm being overly ambitious? What if I make all of these grand plans and then I end up not meeting my goals? What if everything I think is stupid? Or, if it's not (and I don't actually think it is), then what if somehow in the execution it comes out stupid? (That is entirely possible, though I don't actually think likely.)
Now let's note for the record that I was not at all ambitious in the "plans" or "projected progress" that I put into my sabbatical application. I reigned myself in so that I would surely meet those markers without a problem. But what I'm doing now are the "real" plans, except of course they are likely way too much to do in between now and next January. What is most likely is that I'll end up accomplishing something in between the low set of expectations that I promised and the very high expectations that I have for myself. Which is fine, I suppose, but I'd really like it a lot better if I could accomplish everything I really want to accomplish as opposed to something short of that.
How I'm envisioning my writing time is this. Most of the time, I'll be at home (so not traveling fancy places like Dr. Virago will be doing with her sabbatical), and I think I'm going to adopt the schedule that I kept when I wrote the bulk of my dissertation. That schedule (Monday through Friday) is as follows: 1) wake up at like 9 or 10 every day, and spend like 2-3 hours drinking coffee and plotting and planning. 2) Head to coffee shop with only those items I absolutely need in order to accomplish that day's work by 1-2 pm. Spend the next 4-5 hours working/writing. 3) Return home for dinner and some reflection on the work accomplished. 4) Relax, do whatever I want, etc. Lather, rinse, repeat. Weekends will be off, unless I'm feeling totally in some sort of irreplaceable groove. I don't think that's an unreasonable schedule, and I also think that it does mean, if I really follow it, that I will be able to have a substantial draft of the monstrosity, er, manuscript, done by January.
But the above, of course, is assuming that I get a good chunk of the research for it done this spring. Which I've already begun, and which I'm inspired to do by a variety of conference-type things that will happen (or have the potential to happen) over the next 10 months.
Which brings me to the thing I'm actually trying to put together right now, which is an abstract for consideration for an MLA panel. The problem is, what I'd want to present on is related to a novel that I've not done a thing with since I was an undergraduate, which means that I have to do a boatload of research just so that I can put together a non-embarrassing abstract. And that abstract is due in a week's time. Ugh.
On the other hand, though, doing all of this research is a good thing, as I'm anticipating that this will be the first chapter of NB that I will write, and so doing all of this research puts me in a strong position to knock out that first draft chapter in May/June. Also, all of this research will be useful for a conference paper I'm giving in June, so even if I'm not accepted to the MLA panel it's not for nothing that I'm doing it. Except, of course, I'm totally ignoring the fact that I hope to be moving house somewhere around May through July, which of course means that I'm not going to be doing any sort of daily writing when (thinking positively) that comes to pass.
But so anyway, tonight I plan to sit down with my articles and books and to get some good work done while watching the women's figure skating. And yes, there are other work-related things I could be doing (like revising a document for an upcoming meeting, or editing some other documents for another upcoming meeting) but I will not be doing those things today.
But for now, I need to go and continue with dinner preparations. I've got a chicken roasting (am going to make stock later with the carcass) and I need to prep the brussel sprouts that I will roast to go with it.
2 years ago