Saturday, January 11, 2014

Very [Adj.] Start to Year

Like most of my plans for the new year--hopes, more than plans; wishes, more than resolutions--my plan to start posting here again have been on hold.  An assortment of exigencies, from work to bad weather, have gotten in the way.  We're not even two weeks into 2014, though, and I refuse to be discouraged, or at least more discouraged, which is what not writing will do to me.  So here I am, by George, however briefly, taking a minute out of the day to think about what needs to be done.

I got a fair amount done during my research leave.  I wrote three conference papers, each different from the last, along with an 11000-word essay on Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Natural Born Charmer and the first few pages of a new essay on some Jewish American poets.  I did a lot of managerial and administrative work on IASPR and the the Romance area of PCA; I worked a lot on JPRS (next issue coming soon!); with help from colleagues, I landed two book contracts, and brought one of those books, a co-edited collection, nearly to completion.  I played a lot of guitar, and a little mandola.

The most important thing I did, though, was figure out what was going wrong, a few months into the leave.  Week after week went by, in the beginning, without any progress on anything substantive; the days blurred into one another, awash in email; I was sleeping badly; I was down, as I hadn't been in a while.  Blogging then seemed to exacerbate the situation, which is why I stopped.

What helped then, and needs to help now, was some good time management decisions.  I moved everything connected to email to my afternoons, and set the morning aside for research and writing.  After lunch I practiced an instrument, if only for 10 or 15 minutes; after dinner, I did no writing or correspondence; at bedtime, I avoided reading on screens.  Simple moves, each of them, but they changed everything.

My teaching schedule this term won't let me keep that schedule, alas.  I have to be up by 6 at the latest, and on the road early; my first class is at 9:40, and my second follows pretty closely on its heels.  That's two mornings a week accounted for--and I have plenty of prep that I need to do for each class, which also takes up time.  I'm getting more and more email, now from students, as well as colleagues, so there's a backlog I'll need to get sorted; I've fallen days or weeks behind on my writing and editing projects; I haven't picked up an instrument in days.  For the past couple of nights I've found myself picking up the iPod right at bedtime to check in on Facebook or scroll plaintively through my inbox, which doesn't help the sleep to follow.

The first task , then, is to figure out a sustainable schedule for the new quarter:  not the same one, but something similar.  Will think about that today.


Laura Vivanco said...

Sounds like you've been very productive! I've not been able to do much at all recently. We'll be moving house soon and the whole process of buying a new place, doing it up and trying to sell the old place means I feel too unsettled to really be able to concentrate on my work.

"I landed two book contracts"

Is one of them the one you emailed me about a while ago? I'm assuming the one which is almost finished is the one you're co-editing with Bill.

E. M. Selinger said...

Thanks, Laura! Yes, those are the two books--we're about to sign the contract on the one I emailed you about, and we'll be in touch with some thoughts about the content of your piece. Your thoughts about potential overlapping with other sections have us giving a second look to the Table of Contents, and we have a nice little window of time here before the project gets fully underway.

Moving house is a very big effort indeed! We've moved several times, and if memory serves, you're probably doing a great deal of work--just not of the scholarly kind. Good luck with the buying, selling, packing, and the rest of the transition!