Could be dead, or stabbed. Or it could be midweek! But it’s Friday and I’m whole and hearty. Bonus!
Made it to the weekend and neither the meeting with the dean nor my burgeoning workload managed to bring me down. I am already feeling spread out thinly, like butter scraped across hot toast. Saw my schedule get just a little bit more crowded and hectic. We’re already tackling the question of what courses each of us will offer next year: the earliest we’ve ever thought about this in my department. But if we don’t, we won’t know where to make the cuts mandated as part of the university’s overall austerity program. Balancing personnel realities versus budget numbers is a frustrating exercise.
Still, I’m not chairperson and I’m so glad to say that. Once I’ve dealt with various service responsibilities as well as my class meetings, I’m doing my best to get out of Dodge. Even though home is alive with distractions, I find it surprisingly easy to ignore the siren call of the television for the luxury of real mind-work.
This term, I’m committed to Another Damned Notorious Writing Group, an online support group running twelve weeks. Week one is done and gone: I did some of what I’d hoped to do. The sad reality of seeing my writing hopes and ambitions running up against the unyielding requirements of my job’s other requirements? That’s the hardest part of term to deal with on an emotional level. I have such hopes of universal, regular progress, and I feel them dashed time and again by my wacky schedule.
As Dr. Crazy notes, writing every day isn’t an approach that works for everyone. I do my best when I write regularly but Tuesdays, for instance, when I’m booked all but one hour from 8-8? Writing doesn’t happen and I don’t try to make it happen. I might be able to squeeze in a little research or writing time during office hours or my lunch hour but I’d rather use these contingent timeslots for tasks that don’t suffer when I suddenly drop the ball. (Reviewing slidesets for classes so I can tweak the questions and images, for instance, or adding more material to the online course management system.)
I pray there aren’t any meetings on Friday afternoons because then I enjoy a wonderful “sweet spot” of four uninterrupted hours to drill down deep in my current project. Despite leaving breadcrumb trails in the form of ALL CAPS NOTES to myself, I need about half an hour to reorient myself as to what I’m writing as well as how I’m using the sources.
Sadly, this Friday wasn’t a joyous excursion into writing. My afternoon meeting was important and we accomplished our goals, but it chopped up my afternoon into precisely the wrong chunks. Even so, I’ve completed the key writing task I’d wanted to have finished in the last week. I’m fortunate that my family’s tolerant enough of my wacky work schedule to take it calmly when I say that this weekend is all about writing and editing because that’s what I’ll be doing.
It’s not ideal. It’s not even how I’m supposed to be working as I teach a 3/2 load on paper. You can be that I can’t wait for next term when my teaching commitments drop from five courses to three! But I think this stop-and-go schedule with a clear road map is something that’s working for me.
What’s working for you with writing, editing, research or study this term?