Friday, January 28, 2011

Cooking up some writing mojo

I don't have writing mojo, but I have marmalade; does that count? I just came back from the grocery store and it was an impulse purchase. I love toast with jam (and have plenty of raspberry jam open in the fridge already) and I could live off of nothing but toast and jam if that weren't unhealthy and fattening the way I do it. (Seriously, I could eat toast --- with or without jam --- All. Day.)

But marmalade doesn't really have anything to do with research and writing, does it? Not as far as I can tell. Too bad. I shall then make the completely bizarre and confusing transition from snacks to my research plans, and you'll have to hold on tight to keep following me.

Back before I made my research plans, or when I was in the preliminary stages, I was in email contact with Dr Does Everything, who does everything. I don't know if I've discussed hir on the blog or not, but not too long ago, Dr Does Everything was a grad student. And so was I! And now you get to call me Dr Cog! How cool is that. Nope, still hasn't gotten old. Anyway.

Dr Does Everything landed a tenure track job and for a short while I was jealous. But man, hir situation sure taught me what to appreciate about mine ---- there are more than 10,000 people in this city; I moved here with a bunch of postdocs instead of all alone with only my partner; the postdocs are both in culture shock and are my age, whereas Dr Everything's nearest hire is 15 years older and is just going up for tenure (and has both gotten over and forgotten the difficulties of adjusting to their little town, so no one understands why zie is having a hard time), and worst of all, they are looking at a major budget shortfall, the definite plan of layoffs, and possibly closing the entire department a la SUNY next year. Yikes.

So when I was sitting around grading comp crap and feeling vaguely jealous, Dr Does Everything was sat down by hir chair and told that while they saved hir position from layoffs this year, zie would be vulnerable to layoffs the following year and also obviously up a creek if they just shut down everything. And so Does Everything went back out on the market (and landed quite a few interviews at MLA, too).

Anybody else I would be worried on their behalf, but Dr Does Everything has always done everything. Hir work ethic and productivity levels are amazing and on top of that zie has always done a lot of traveling and really intense participation in some time-consuming hobbies, and also works out regularly on top of that. (Now that I'm jealous of!) I should probably have named Dr Does Everything Dr Indefatigable, but actually zie does get tired and complains a lot; zie just gets everything done as well.

Enough of the gossip then. Basically, I knew Does Everything wrote a book proposal and spent MLA querying presses (and did the job market and sent out two more articles and taught 4 classes, damn!), so I emailed and suggested we form a dissertation-revising group. Radio silence. So I dusted off my article and decided that it would be a big enough chunk to chew on this semester, and started working. (Updates in a sec.) But yesterday I finally got an email back from Does Everything (explaining the above story) and zie really wants to do a revising group. And zie promised a press that zie would send them a complete manuscript by March! Dude.

Now I am torn. Do I drop the article to work on the book project again? If I can draft off Does Everything's momentum and energy levels (you know, like a race car) and actually get my manuscript all worked up, how awesome would that be? Maybe Dr Does Everything's drive and anxiety and deadlines are just what I need to really work harder than I usually do!

On the other hand, I thought a lot about my article. And today I even wrote on it! (A smidge over one double spaced typed page, but it wasn't really complete sentences by the end. And it's crap. But a page of crap that can eventually be boiled down to a solid well-written paragraph is a pretty good start to get back in the swing of things!) So dropping that to go back to the diss manuscript sounds like I would be losing time and momentum. Hmm. And I just know me; I cannot do teaching and the article and the diss manuscript ---- you would not believe how tired I was again after my 3-hour class; in fact I worked for about an hour and a half and then had to lie down and take a long nap this morning! (I may have to rearrange my writing schedule then I guess. And I need to go back and make up that time.)

Maybe I should make a new proposal saying I would do my article and zie would do hir book, but then we lose the advantage of both of us fumbling through the same process together, as neither of us has revised a dissertation into a book before. Hmm, decisions. I'm not good at committing to decisions. Unless it's about toast. Mmmmm, toast.


Anastasia said...

Marmalade rules. I love marmalade.

undine said...

I hate marmalade but I like reading about your energy and productivity!

Tree of Knowledge said...

Marmalade is awesome.

And you don't need to be working on the same length project for the revising group to work.

JaneB said...

Toast is good. But not with marmalade. Marmalade is for making cakes with.

Sisyphus said...

Marmalade cakes??? Do explain.

JaneB said...

You make a cake which is like a basic pound cake, but substitute marmalade (or fruit jam) for one of the eggs and an ounce or so of the fat and sugar - it makes a moist, rich-looking cake with lovely tangy bits of citrus. And you can top it with a marmalade glaze made by warming a couple of spoons of marmalade and stirring in a little confectioner's sugar, then drizzling it over the cake (but that's sticky. I usually make a crispy glaze by blending normal ground white sugar with lemon juice or orange juice, and dribbling it over the cake - sets to a crispy, tangy topping which is extremely nice!). I have a proper recipe somewhere but have to admit I mostly bake by 'throw in a bit of this' methods...