Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random bullets of Sunday

  • If you haven't yet read "My Fake College Syllabus" at yet, you really should. A sample: "The rest of the period will be spent in class discussion, which by week three will have settled into an “Inside the Actor’s Studio”-esque conversation between me and one or two consistently prepared students whom the rest of you will quietly despise. Occasionally, another student may come out of nowhere, Jeremy Lin style, and dominate a particular class, only to break my heart by fading permanently back into the woodwork the following week, Jeremy Lin-style."
  • I am still working with Scrivener, although when I try to find out an answer to a very simple question ("how can I add the complete word count for the ms. to the bottom of the screen?" "how can I read the segments as though this is a whole manuscript?")  I end up finding out five other things that Scrivener can do but never the ones I'm searching for. Still, it's exciting to see how much is done, even if it's mostly in first-draft stages. 
  • Boice and Silva and just about everyone else say that you should make an appointment with yourself for your writing time and not violate it for anything, including meetings. They recommend announcing this to all and sundry if someone schedules a meeting for that time.  They sort of imply that productive people will step back in awe and not bother you any more, because they, too, have regular writing schedules. Have you ever heard anyone actually say "I can't meet then; that's my writing time"? What did you do? My feeling is that your writing time is no more sacred than my writing time--or any of the rest of my time, for that matter--and that whatever time involves the least travel/inconvenience/interruption for the whole group is the one when the meeting should happen. You choose to attend or not, and I'll do the same. Thoughts? 


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I NEVER say it's my writing time (except to Sir John or other friends in private life). On campus,I say I have a meeting or another obligation. I treat writing as if it were an illicit lover to be protected by lies about Important Meetings Late At the Office, probably with the Dean or the Provost, or perhaps with a desperate student. I expect this very much depends on who and where you are. If I were a well-published scholar who was also serving in an administrative position while being expected to continue publishing, I might feel more able to say "that's my writing time" and have it respected. Given who I am . . . illicit nooners and cinq a septs, baby.

Professor Zero said...

It is fine to say it at an R1 because there other faculty are doing research or at least respect it, and because teaching load is low enough that schedules are actually flexible.

At other kinds of institution I have found that it backfires. People resent you and they do what they can to interrupt your writing time. I learned this quickly and to my grief, so now I do as DEH does.

Professor Zero said...

Oh, p.s. -- cf. dept. chairs who say they do not value offprints, who put it in writing that research is not to be done during the 8-5 space, or who say the time for research and writing is during all nighters or vacation. Such people are legion.

Professor Zero said...

P.S. I am hogging the thread and I guess this topic is dear to my heart. To answer the question "Have you ever heard anyone actually say 'I can't meet then; that's my writing time'? What did you do?"

Yes, I have, and I said, good for you for having writing time, let us build that into our schedule.

Anonymous said...

I used to have it on my schedule as a conference call. But now I get up so early to take the oldest to school that nobody is around when I do my morning writing.

undine said...

Dame Eleanor, I love that analogy! Research ends up being the thing we do for love, really.

Professor Z, it seems crazy to me that people would not value offprints or say that research has to be done outside of the 8-5 space. I don't mind working around someone's writing time, if it's a day I'm on campus. But I'm not going to kill my writing day by driving all the way to campus if the only reason for meeting on that day instead of a day I'm on campus already is someone else's writing time. That's what I meant about saying no and believing that everyone else can do the same.

nicoleandmaggie--I love that "conference call" idea along with Dame Eleanor's. You both are making appointments, just not saying with whom.

Z said...

For me to go into campus to meet on a day I wouldn't go, the meeting has to be major, like final discussion and decision on a hire, at least that level of impact.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard anyone actually say "I can't meet then; that's my writing time"?

No, but I've seen it blogged, at the late great Acadamnit. Absolutely worth a read even now, as long as your tolerance for swearing is good and high.

undine said...

Good to know, Z. I have to make a decision about that for something next week and was wavering on whether to go in or not.

tenthmedieval, I haven't tried that blog but am heading over there now.