What I’ve been doing while not blogging enough:

Interviewing job candidates. Taking them to meals, attending their presentations, sitting round the table with the rest of the hiring committee and asking them questions.

And then gossiping soliciting my colleagues’ opinions of them.

Then sitting in the hiring committee’s meeting during which we try to rank our preferences. This always reminds me of the Scotsman’s remark about breakfast: “It’s a good thing we don’t all like the same things, or think what a shortage of oatmeal there would be.”

The person who studies Underwater Theory, not unnaturally, prefers the candidate who applies Underwater Theories to Basketweaving. Those of us (we few, we happy few!) who actually study Reed Production are fascinated by the candidate who compares Tropical and Cold Water Reeds, while the Underwater Theorists had trouble staying awake during that presentation.

Nonetheless, we eventually manage to order breakfast rank the candidates.

Then we get back to our regularly scheduled spring work, the annual reviews of each other and the rest of our colleagues. For this, I have to read everyone’s reports on service, on research, on teaching, and read other people’s teaching evaluations, which is no more pleasant than reading my own.

Then there’s my other big committee, at the college level, where I helped to rank applications for summer research funds. Next week, I am happy to say, this one will not meet, which means I have more time to read teaching evaluations. Be still, my heart.

Nonetheless, thanks at least in part to having had only a quiz to grade so far (this happy state of affairs will soon come to an end), writing has continued. I think I am done with that R&R. I’m leaving it in the sidebar until I actually send it to the editor. At the moment, it is in the hands of a friend who is reading it to see if it makes sense, if its organization is acceptable, and if I have left out any crucial information.

I have been writing (or at least moving projects forward) every day for awhile now. I decided that writing has to be like tooth-brushing or exercise, something that happens every day, no matter what. Of course, I have certain “advantages” when it comes to teeth and exercise: my teeth are terrible, so I have been brushing and flossing at least once a day for as long as I can remember, in hopes of keeping my own teeth as long as possible. Similarly, I have a chronic condition that I can control pretty well with exercise, so long as I do some stretching and some aerobic exercise every day, no exceptions.

I feel it almost immediately if I skip these sessions. Sadly, all these meetings in the past week mean I have been skimping if not skipping. Nonetheless, the comparison is instructive. Just as there are over-scheduled days when I spend 10 minutes stretching and then take the stairs instead of the elevator and make extra trips to the library just so I’ll do some moving around, as a sad little replacement for my usual 20-30 minutes of yoga and hour or two (counting changing and showering and so on) at the gym, so there are days when, at 10:00 at night, I open a document, stare at what I wrote yesterday, and tinker with a sentence before calling it a night and falling into bed. But that’s still writing. And I think (I hope) I have now got to the point where I feel twitchy and unhappy if I don’t do it, the way I feel achy and uncomfortable if I don’t exercise and can’t relax and fall asleep unless my teeth are clean.

I ordered a set of writing books from Amazon, who conveniently package Silvia’s How to Write A Lot, the most common Boice book (which I’ve read before, and I prefer the more expensive How Writers Journey to Comfort And Fluency), and the one on writing your journal article in 12 weeks. This was more in the nature of a reward (I love books about writing, as I’m sure I’ve said before) than as an effort to organize myself, because, somehow, I already got myself organized to write every day. The advance scheduling that at least two out of three of these books recommend doesn’t work so well for me. I like to write first thing; but sometimes I wind up staying up too late, or sleeping badly, and so I get up late and can’t write early in the day. Then I’m looking for time later. But the beauty of saying “it has to happen every day” means that I do the writing sooner or later. I try to pick out times the night before: in the morning if I wake up early enough, or if this meeting ends early I’ll write then, or in office hours if no one shows up, and if office hours do fill up, then when they are over I will close my door and write for twenty minutes before I go home. Then I know what the options are, and I’m ready to take advantage of whichever one is easiest to pounce on.

I’m not sure how this happened. Something just shifted in me, making it easier to put the writing first, to stop worrying about what I haven’t done or have put off, to put aside all the anxieties that so often accompany writing, so that I’m just doing it. For one thing, it felt really good to send off the corrections for the accepted piece. I really didn’t want to work on the R&R, but I did terribly want it to be done, so I worked on it in regular bits till I could say I was done, and now I am vastly pleased at having finished it (how I hope my friend doesn’t think it needs a major overhaul) and really happy to move on to the next thing on the list. It’s snowballing.

And, of course, I have been looking after the cats (not spending nearly enough time with them, poor pathetic neglected little animals whom nobody loves); Nicole and Maggie want more cat blogging, so I will try to oblige!


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