Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One more time

At the beginning of the summer, I carved out two mornings a week to work on long-term projects.  I didn't go to the office on those mornings -- instead, I went to a coffee shop.  And it's been a successful strategy.  Since mid-May when I started this practice, I've read and taken notes on twenty books and dissertations.  On alternate days, I constructed a new course and participated in my students' summer assignments.  Last week, at what I thought was my last opportunity to spend a morning at Starbucks, I wrapped up my summer by mapping out the next 18 months of the research project.

It turns out I have one more chance.  Classes start on Thursday, and normally the days prior are packed with meetings and preparation.  But tomorrow my calendar is pristine.  Not a single appointment, not a single meeting besmirches its emptiness.  The message seemed clear: I could take one more of those research mornings.  The summer gave me a bonus.

I'm actually a little at sea.  What should I read?  What should I write?  Having tied up the loose ends already, I don't know if I should reopen the project or unpack any new cans of worms.  But I've always been of the opinion that any given segment of a multi-stage effort isn't ready to be put on the shelf marked "done" unless you've gotten a running start at the next stage.  So tomorrow I'd like to construct a draft outline for the first paper I want to write from this research.  If I can generate momentum toward the next step, I'll be able to put the project aside until time permits more work on it.  Even if my bonus half-day doesn't result in a solid start on a publication, though, I can look back at 2010 as my most productive summer of scholarship ever.  And I can look forward to my two mornings a week out of the office in summer 2011.

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