This blog is an attempt to have an answer to the question: “where did the time go?” It will have some content — free-writing about the material I’m actually researching and published elsewhere in a more formal manner — but mostly its about process.
To prepare for this adventure I’ve re arranged all the furniture in the back bedroom and set up a standing desk. I brought two suitcases and one milk crate of books home from campus. I’ve spent two weeks away from email and social media and all things academic to clear the mind.
This morning I took out a black dry erase marker and made a list on a big antique mirror of all the academic projects to which I’m committed:
– EDITS ON A PREVIOUS CHAPTER
– HALF DONE BOOK REVIEW
– JULY TALK
– SEPTEMBER CHAPTER
– THE CURRENT BOOK
– FUNDING FOR THE NEXT BIG PROJECT
I then called another academic and she reminded me of a few important maxims. “None of these projects will be finished today” “Write something” “Pick a smaller component of one of the projects and accomplish that goal”
The big take away from the conversation is that I don’t have to choose between working on clearing the decks, playing with new ideas, and getting down to serious work on the BOOK.
At this point I went and fetched bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress. I was looking for a half remembered quotation about the trauma of being between books and not believing the next book will ever come. I couldn’t find it. I appear to have read it in a phase where I was too OCD to write in my books. One of the blessings of e-books is my now wreckless abandon in highlighting and annotating books. Instead I found her opening confession to having nightmares: “They were a response to the reality that I would be granted tenure. I was afraid that I would be trapped in the academy forever.”
I am so trapped. The terrible reality of it is that I have so fully internalized the culture of the academy that I feel a burning press to “produce” rather than to think and explore. Hopefully, for the next 410 days I’ll do a little bit of both.