Overcome By Events?

The last two days I’ve been nibbled to death by ducks, seriously eyed by the alligators that were in the swamp I drained or, as Notorious Ph.D. succinctly phrases it, Overcome by Events.

Some of it good, mind you. Our faculty union voted yesterday and ratified a three year contract. The New York Times is blogging about our next project, Star Wars and History.

Still, time flies and boy, does it! Since my sabbatical’s over, I submitted my annual report, updated CV, teaching dossier (for the first term) and copies of my publication. I’m acting chair so I’m in the office daily, advising a few students and ensuring no emergencies arise as happened last summer with the Great Flood.

With all of this, I mostly have had to deal with Real LifeTM (i.e. the kids, the pets, the house, the bills, the cat hair). I’ve not been seated for more than fifteen minutes (and that’s the bare minimum of time I need to get going on writing, even with a trail of notes accompanied by an extensive outline).

My writing’s and editing’s been confined to snatched moments of research reading and email correspondence for two days. Plus, I have an evening commitment that’ll keep me from getting any real work done tonight (hence, pecking out this blog post in the five minutes I have, here and there, between laundry loads and other Events).

So much for Write Early, Write Often? No way!

I’m miffed that I’ve lost a few days of writing, let’s be honest, but rather than sulking or snarking, I’m considering Tuesday and Wednesday in the form of my writing weekend. I wrote daily for the previous six days. I can afford a few days off. Besides, angst doesn’t get words on the (virtual) page or pay the bills!

So, tomorrow morning’s already been blocked off. No email, errands or appointments until I sit down and write the next section of the current chapter. I’m collating a pile of reference books so they’ll be handy for when tomorrow’s writing time starts. My writing time ends at middday, when I’ll need to take autistic youngest to get a filling and, looking at the rest of the day’s schedule, that’s it for writing time until seven unless the filling is accomplished quickly and easily.

Even then, I’m not abandoning all those hours to the gods of entropy. I have five interlibrary loan books I need to consult for the current project. Taking one of those and a stack of post-it notes, maybe even the ereader or the netbook, means that if I’m stuck sitting somewhere I can pull out the book and make the notes I need. Research is another vital part of the writing process, so it’s a constructive use of those stolen minutes.

How do you push your project ahead when your daily schedule resembles a jigsaw puzzle more than anything else?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Overcome By Events?

  1. I would to all the gods that I knew! I loved being away because there was only ever one thing I was supposed to be doing. No cats, no laundry (well, only what I could do in the hotel sink), no arrangements to have stuff done to the house or to me, no social life, no cooking, no sorting and filing, nothing but research and writing and conferencing. Now all the being-at-home stuff is crashing down around my ears. And everyone else’s ears. My magic bullet is still getting up early, & if I do that, it’s fine, & if not, I’m hosed.

  2. jliedl

    I like term days when I can use the first hour on campus to write but I won’t be able to do that this year (8:30 classes, 3 days/week and no way to get on campus much before 8). You’re right that being at home is not conducive to focus!

  3. Drew

    Hi, I discovered this blog yesterday when I was looking for blogs by academics (I’m a young lawyer who might be interested in academia someday). Then today I independently discovered, via the NYT, that you are working on a Star Wars and History book. I’m also a huge Star Wars geek (and history buff for that matter).

    So beyond being the exact target market for your next book, I’m also curious if the project will cover one specific aspect of the Star Wars universe: droids. Many of them are depicted as intelligent, essentially self-aware beings. Yet they are bought and sold, made to do work for their “master,” can have their memories wiped, etc. Many of these things are not portrayed as bad– in fact, good guys often do them. For example, Luke buys Artoo and Threepio from the jawas, Luke gives Artoo and Threepio to Jabba as gifts and, at the end of Episode III Threepio’s memory is ordered to be wiped. If these were human, or even alien, characters, this would be obviously wrong (indeed, slavery is portrayed as bad elsewhere in the movies). But not one character ever says anything about this being done to droids in the movies.

    So my question is: what was George Lucas’s vision of droids in society? are different classes of droids treated differently? would he ever envision a droid civil rights movement? And if not, how would he differentiate droids from the historical situation of Jim Crow-era America (or even the antebellum South)? Thanks for any feedback!

    • jliedl

      Drew, thanks for the visit and comment! I can’t speak definitively on George Lucas’s vision of droids, but we definitely agree that the rights and place of droids in the universe hit some hot-button social issues from our own world. He’s a canny thinker so I believe we can safely say that he put a lot of those parallels out there to make viewers think about how they view who does and doesn’t “belong” in a society.

      Discrimination? That throwaway line about serving “their kind” in Episode IV is pretty clear. The buying and selling of droids, as you note, goes on unabated even while the practice of slavery is protested. Does the New Republic tackle the question of droid rights? (I’ve not seen this in the dozen or so EU books I’ve read!)

      We’ll hopefully get to tackle some of this along with the issue of slavery and discrimination, more widely drawn, as the collection comes together.