2014 turned out to be a banner professional year, despite health problems that sapped my strength for most of the first six months of the year. I shepherded four different projects into print that resulted in one scholarly article, three book chapters and a co-edited book. That also cleared a lot of my academic writing to-do list (except for Game of Thrones and History), leaving me in the strange situation of trying to determine exactly what is next.
I’ve been telling myself since the end of October that I could either go with the stalled article draft that’s sitting on my hard drive or move sideways to the related article idea that hasn’t been giving me kittens as the first piece has. Seriously, every time I reopen the first file, I find another point that makes me stop and think “self, isn’t that taking the analysis off-topic?” The stalled draft is stalled for a good reason: it’s not coherent and focused.
In contrast, the related article is just an idea, but it takes one of the elements from the stalled article and runs with only that element. I think that’s a better way to approach the project: start by outlining the clear elements in the sources and then move onto the more complex questions from their interaction.
So I know, when I stop to think about it, which way I need to go with my writing. The tricky part was that I needed the last week to see clearly. A week ago I wrapped up my marking for the fall term. That’s given me a week free of teaching worries (except for my new preps for January) and other pressures of the term or family life. That breather week has helped me to realize what I can and can’t do.
The next trick is not to get too far ahead of myself on the project. I’m going to open a new note in Evernote to collect any insights but, otherwise, I won’t tackle this until January 5 when the new term begins. Let’s see what another week off of the hamster wheel can do for my prospects ahead.
4 responses to “What’s Next?”
Janice, you’re a machine! What a terrific year for your scholarship. Congratulations–especially, as you remind us, considering your health problems earlier this year. You put the rest of us to shame–esp. those of us who 1) are healthy and 2) have been on sabbatical since August. I haven’t had nearly as productive a year as you, ever!
I think pursuing the sideways offshoot project is the way to go, especially since given your productive year, anything you work on for the next week is 100% gravy. Why not have fun? Why not go down that rabbit hole?
I hope you and your family are enjoying a restful & lovely winter break. I’ve enjoyed your White Christmas photos on Twitter! (We had a major dump Christmas day/evening. It’s atmospheric–in spite of the shoveling, I’ve enjoyed looking at something other than brown grass!)
Thanks so much for the support and the perspective, Historiann. My banner publication year in no way reflects badly on the smart sabbaticants that I know like yourself who simultaneously wrap up projects and pull in new research for the next round. My last sabbatical was the starting point for some of my most recent publications as well as the next project. God bless sabbaticals, each and every one!
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to another week of fun reading, since even my new teaching preps for January are great topics that have connections to my research portfolio, particularly the course on English crime. I’m also enjoying having the entire family home for a while, including Eldest, back from her university several hours to the south.
Sending good thoughts your way for a restful holiday and a productive second half of your sabbatical year.
Wow — what a year, indeed! Congratulations on both your return to good health and on having mostly cleared the writing decks. Enjoy your week off the hamster wheel!
Thanks! it’s been wonderful to step away from the course prep and university email, even for a scant week. Wishing you a rejuvenating break as well!