In Hamilton, the second act is--let's just say very, very sad. Lin-Manuel Miranda calls it a "cryfest," and he wrote it, so he ought to know. The saddest song is "It's Quiet Uptown," and it is so sad that I've only listened to it maybe 5 times instead of the dozens that I've listened to the rest of the soundtrack. The next song, "The Election of 1800," begins with Jefferson saying, "Yo, can we get back to politics?" and James Madison saying, in a strangled voice, "Please!"
So, to reframe: "Yo, can we get back to writing?" "Please!" You understand, don't you?
I don't dare say this on Facebook for fear of being seared to a crisp as uncaring, apolitical, an accommodationist, a monster, "neoliberal" (which are all the same thing on Facebook) at the very least. I'm not. I'm still upset. I've contacted congressional representatives, donated, and the rest. (Fat lot of good contacting one representative did: what I got in return from one was a rah-rah Trump cheering newsletter talking about "draining the swamp." But at least I did it and will keep trying.)
To get back to writing: This fall, I've done three conferences, some with two papers, and an invited talk, all of which had to be written (no recycled work); I've submitted one article to the major journal in my field and have another about 95% ready.
The most recent conference was incredibly productive, both in terms of hearing new work and in terms of taking me in a new direction for what I can do next. I got direct and very positive feedback on my papers, and I connected with people who are working in this new-ish (for me) research area, who liked what I was doing.
We all know that talking with people at a conference can really help, not only in terms of knowing what work is coming out but in terms of research opportunities (what X archive holds that isn't obvious from the finding aid, for example.) I don't think we think enough about how conferences can force us beyond our comfort zones and push us in new directions, however. I rarely see a call for papers and think "great! This already-written piece will fit perfectly, so I'll make an abstract and send it in." Instead, I think, "that sounds interesting. I wonder if X would be a good idea for that?" and send in an abstract.
Then, of course, I have to do the research and write the paper, not to mention go to (and pay for going to) the conference or the archive. This does not make me happy, but at the same time, it creates some sense of tension and excitement that helps the writing, although that's probably the wrong way to look at it.
Maybe it's the thrill and agony of a deadline. Everyone differs in this. To give an example: Teddy Roosevelt, if given a writing assignment, would do it as soon as humanly possible, put it away, and forget about it. William Howard Taft would agonize and procrastinate, working over drafts forever. If you've been reading this blog you know that I, ma'am, am no Roosevelt. To get anything done, I need to borrow inspiration from the Roosevelts among you, and that means conferences.