from the I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired war.
I'm only letting myself write this blogpost because even though it would be great if I would use the last dregs of today getting some grading done to make tomorrow easier, I will probably go insane if I don't do something fun, something that reaches out past my life and its tight circles right now and toddlers who refuse to sleep at reasonable times.
You remember how in my last post I said I hate being sick? Well, let me amend that: I hate being sick for more than a week. Because this cold bloomed on the last day of the conference and was instrumental in me deciding not to bother turning back across the reservoir to hit up Taco Cabana, which is the greatest "fast food" in the world and can only mean I was feeling very very bad, its start date is etched on my memory: Friday, March 11. Today is Sunday, March 20. For the record: ill every moment since that time. It just sucks. (Then I got my period. And that super-sucked. TMI. Enough about that.)
So it's the end of the quarter and, having gotten so sick, I'm totally behind so now I'm grading a lot and being ill and taking care of Tot (that is, the usual -- and he's sick too) all at the same time. I'm also planning things to make my overall life better, like putting Tot into daycare another day each week, and picking him up earlier so that sometimes we can spend time together going to the park or whatever. But this doesn't help my immediate grading drama, because he's also got an eye appointment tomorrow -- and even if Absurdist Lover calls the daycare in the morning, which he said he would, it would be silly to put Tot in daycare for a few hours in the morning so I can get some grading done. (Of course, when I write it out like that, it seems perfectly reasonable to put him in daycare to get ahead. Well, if I can get up at a decent hour tomorrow, then maybe I can get a few done before Tot even wakes up. That would really help.)
During the times that I'm either wearily taking care of Tot or when I absolutely cannot grade and so am doing something else, I'm daydreaming a lot. I find myself obsessed by two different big and important work-related thoughts. I think I'll focus on one here and then save the other for another time.
I've decided to write a book.
How did such a decision evolve? Because it did evolve and now seems inevitable, but of course a few days ago it wasn't so obvious. Since I went to the conference, I've felt that I really should get on revising my dissertation work and writing this article for my Fave Journal. I even saw this CFP that is completely up my alley that I decided I wouldn't pay much attention to because what I really need to do is write this article for Fave Journal. In thinking about my problems with that article, I had this visual epiphany -- that I want each argument to really be a big file folder unto itself because I feel like everything I read is connected to those arguments. I just need more space than an article allows. And so I thought I'll write a book, but then thought I'd organize it completely differently from the dissertation. And then it occurred to me: instead of writing a book that places this new theory into too many sites and possibly takes on more than it can chew, why don't I look closely at the site I care most about and which will be most important to people in my field? I've gone back and forth on this in the past, deciding it would be a good idea, but not really being passionate about it, but this feels different. I want to do it, I ought to do it, I can do it, and I'm going to do it.
When I look at books in my field, some of them that are very powerful are actually very short. Some are barely over 100 pages. Of course, there are books that hit 200 pages, even 250. But that's about it. Not very many really big books. So I'm thinking about 180 pages, because I just can't imagine it being any shorter than that. And I've been thinking about how I want to proceed, how like Dr. Crazy, I'd like to set up a three-ring binder and tabs, though I also need some pockets as well to just put stuff in. I tend to end up cutting stuff up.
I think that the real hard part is going to be finding each major chapter's organization. I hope that at least one or two will come together organically; others I'll probably have to construct each awkward plank that gets us from here to there. Organization is my weak point because to me every argument ends up leading to every other argument in a way probably easiest to imagine representing with hypertext, but who wants to read that? I certainly don't want to construct that. (Sorry, all you hypertext scholar-writer-innovators.)
What does this mean for my tenure bid, which I had decided to base on articles? Well, as much as I've had a good year so far with decent things in the can, and another piece drafted, and another piece promised, I really want to keep it up. I'd like to have three pieces published in really stellar places by the time I go up for tenure. I've already got one, I think. A very important collection, I think, though I haven't yet seen any post-publication reviews. (Though this is the scholarly world: it could take years and probably will to get the thing reviewed. Now, if anyone quotes me, that will be a very different thing.) But what I'm saying is that even though I want to work on this book, I also want to work on articles. I must write that piece for Fave Journal; as I work on it and see the difficulties, I'll take notes for the book. If Fave Journal hates it, I'll revise it closer to the book and send it to Cool Journal.
What I'm doing is allowing myself to work on the book for 10 minutes per day -- and then that's it, because I have so much grading to do and when I get some time (like the three seconds between this quarter ending and the next one starting -- oh I hate this schedule so much) I need to really just cobble together a draft of the Much Needed Article and get some people to look at it. It just must be done and out, so I can think of other things.
But at least in my head, I'm writing a book. 10 minutes a day.