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31 Days: Twenty

Today's topic: Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.

What I'm struggling with right now is how I'm going to take advantage of the great opportunity that the coming school year offers me.

I'm on sabbatical next year, which means I get paid half my salary to not teach or do any service. All research, all the time. This is a great opportunity, obviously, and one that most jobs don't offer (even most jobs in academia). Mr. Z has the same deal, and in the fall we're going to be in Providence, RI, for him, while spring semester will be (partially) in Melbourne, Australia, for me. Pretty damn awesome, right? I have the next twelve months laid out for me with no schedule, no daily obligations, nothing due until I return to campus in Fall 2014 with a report of all of the wondrous things I got accomplished.

Thing is, as I've discussed here before, I've had a string of bad luck over the past year with regards to work. I spent last August and September applying for various grants and fellowships and got nada. I got at least four articles in a row rejected (though I finally heard that two got accepted last month). I think I'm over my self-boycott of May and June, but I'm still scared to start on anything new because it's probably going to go nowhere as well. Or so that little voice in my head says.

I've been telling everybody that I'm going to work on two books in this upcoming year: one an edited volume with a co-editor that's exciting in terms of hopefully opening up a new subdiscipline within my area of expertise (vague!Z is vague), and one that's a solo work drawing on the research I've been doing in Chicago. But both of these projects are so overwhelmingly large, I don't know where to start. Even my dissertation was three parts in one, not a single, large project. And without any colleagues nearby to motivate me, I'm worried that I won't get a thing done.

(But that means you can write fanfic all day, Z! And quilt! And explore the new and exciting places you're living! Yes, that's what I'm afraid of.)

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out a strategy to deal with this. I have a friend here in another department with whom I meet every week to share our writing with each other, and that has worked well in terms of getting me to get off my ass and write something most weeks. We're going to try to continue that via Skype, so that's something. Maybe I need to set up a weekly check-in with someone every day of the week, LOL. Or find an app to nag me to just write already.

But at the moment, I'm standing at the bottom of this big mountain, the top of which is lost in the clouds, wondering, "How the hell am I ever going to climb this thing?"


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2013 12:13 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Yes, the open-ended periods are tough. Not sure what to do about that. Heck, I never even had a dissertation year, I jumped right from finishing coursework to full-time job and crammed the dissertation in around the corners.

Still, I think we're in vaguely similar fields, so if you need someone to check in with or bounce ideas off of, let me know.
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:43 pm (UTC)
I will keep that in mind! Thanks. :)
Aug. 3rd, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
What if--and I'm just spit ballin' here--what if you wrote one billion words of Zounds verse for every day of your sabbatical? What if then?
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
I would have worn my poor little fingers down to the bone and couldn't write anything else ever. :(
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
We all must make sacrifices to our art. *solemn nod*
Aug. 3rd, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)
My dad got sabbatical, and right off the bat my mom got sick and was hospitalized, and he was stuck home with 5 kids under the age of 6. I'm pretty sure he wished he was still in front of a classroom that semester!

Really, though, your Skype plan sounds helpful. And you're always welcome to report your progress on LJ too! It is hard working big projects solo. You have my sympathy/encouragement!
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Oof! Not what he was planning on doing, I'm sure.

Thanks, bb. *hugs*
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:56 am (UTC)
Hey. I'm negotiating a bit of a work schedule change (more from home, less in the office) starting in September. If you wanted to set up a system of regular (Mondays? every afternoon?) check-ins on progress (a reward system that includes fannish writing after x amount of research/scholarship is completed?), I would be up for that.
Aug. 5th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like the reward system idea. But that implies daily check-ins, whereas I'd only want to bother you once a week. Maybe MWF?
Aug. 10th, 2013 09:56 am (UTC)
Sure! Whatever you think would be helpful to you. I like setting up and announcing short-term goals (word count, finishing a task, whatever) that I can be held accountable for later. Like, telling you on Monday what I have to have done the next time we check in. Is that the kind of thing that would be useful to you, too?
Aug. 15th, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
Yes! I will e-mail you to discuss it further. :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )