Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balance (a quest)

It's been a while since I've written a real post (I'm not counting yesterday's rant), because working on two projects has diverted all my creative energies. But this morning I cracked the 80% mark on the conference paper [new material], and I've been able to get the introduction and first chapter of my copy-edits done, so I'm feeling a bit more relaxed, at least for the moment.

So, as I've said before, this is an ambitious semester, in terms of writing. A draft of an article, a polished conference paper (for November), a draft of another one (for May), and the copy-edits on the book. January will be Big Conference, packing up for sabbatical leave, and preparations for a three-month research trip. So, I'm busy. There are other things, too -- pesky things on the "teaching" and "service" front, but I'm just not looking at them. This is a marathon semester, rather than a sprint, so I keep my eyes on the next tree or telephone poll that I'm running to pass. Mini-meltdowns are going to all be part of the process, I figure.

I didn't plan it this way. It just kind of happened. But in case some of you were thinking of doing this on purpose, here's what I've given up so far, 7 weeks into the process:
  • a clean apartment
  • a stocked refrigerator
  • getting home from the office before 8 p.m.
  • sleeping past 6:30 a.m.
  • clean hair
  • cooking
  • taking pictures
  • long walks with neighbor C.
  • phone conversations with friends (except those lasting less than 10 minutes)
  • e-mail correspondence
  • any social life whatsoever
  • falling asleep before I'm utterly exhausted (otherwise the anxiety keeps me awake)

Oddly enough, I've managed not to get sick, despite all the colds and flus in the air, and despite hosting a sniffly six year-old for 48 hours last weekend. Honestly, I think it's the same phenomenon as the two weeks leading to the nearly simultaneous submission of my MS and my tenure file last year: the adrenaline seemed to act as a temporary immune system boost. But this isn't healthy in the long run, right?

In any case, my colleagues lately have been stopping by my office with helpful suggestions. Two think I should start dating (yeah, right -- with what time?); one thinks I should take up drinking (a world of no); another says I need sleep (this one strikes me as reasonable), but also deep-fried foods.

I'm tempted to go with the standing suggestion of my old friend the Wizard Chimp: "Mmmmm...chocolate..."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

WorldCat: A mini-rant [UPDATED!]

As a researcher, one of the databases I depend on most is WorldCat -- the ginormous international repository for publication information on every book and serial available in just about any library, anywhere. It takes a few hours of fiddling with it the first time you use it in order to learn its quirks, tricks, and shortcuts, but once you do, you can find anything.

Then, this morning, I woke up to a new, "simplified" version that has transformed it from a precision tool into a blunt instrument. I believe that the phrase that my fourteenth-century documents would use to describe my feelings about this, after only 90 seconds of use, is odio capitale.

I am not amused.

UPDATE: Check out the comments section for the response of someone who seems to be affiliated with the WorldCat team. I am impressed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Losing the thread (a freewrite)

I just spent the last 48 hours with my six year-old nephew. That was three mornings without work. And I find that I've lost the thread of my conference paper, and now feel a bit of panic looming. So, before bed tonight, I need to figure out where that thread is, again. This paper has far too many working files associated with it. But I need to do what I did in September: find a manageable task, and complete it.

I have officially acknowledged that I am overextended this semester.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What finally made it all seem real

Not the finished MS. Not the positive readers' reports. Not the "yes, we want to publish this" e-mail. Not even the fully signed and executed contract.

No, today, I got the copy-edited version of my MS. And: My book has an ISBN.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This, too, shall pass


Just when I finally realize I am not too dumb to write my book, the book is done, and off, and I realize that I am too dumb to write any other book. Or article. Or conference paper, for that matter.

That was fast.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Project 2: Underway

Today I plugged in the first words to my word counter for project #2. That 34% figure is largely illusory, as the "words" are really just notes on a teeny-tiny corner of the project, and will probably be condensed to about 15% of their current bulk, if that. This means that that number will go down before it goes up. Still, progress is progress.

Ladies and gentlemen, the countdown to November 10th has begun.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another Reason to Love Dream Press

So, for those of you who are embarking on that first book project, here's a bit of information you may or may not know. Even if your publication process goes incredibly smoothly, you will "finish" your manuscript several times**:
  1. An approved and filed dissertation
  2. A fully revised book MS to send off for review to press(es)
  3. Once under contract, another version, revised according to the press readers' reports
  4. A version that you correct after the press' copy editors have had a go at it
  5. A final version where you make any (very few!) last-minute changes to the galley proofs
  6. A book
My "I'm finished" statement of 6 weeks ago referred to stage 3. As you can see from the above list, there is actually quite a ways to go. But a few days ago, one of the editorial assistants at Dream Press contacted me, and informed me that I should be expecting my copy-edited MS sometime next week, and that if I turned it around within a month, I should have galley proofs by January.

As many of my fellow bloggers and commenters know (from both good experiences and bad ones), this is blazingly, unexpectedly, lightning-fast. Best yet, it could mean an actual book on the Dream Press table at Kalamazoo this year.

Lucky, lucky me.

**It perhaps goes without saying, but you should celebrate each and every one of these milestones, with cake and/or the beverage of your choice.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coffee and Sympathy

So, I looked at the job ads on the AHA website this morning. October 2, so I think this was the last week to reasonably expect much to come up. A lot of the ads that are there are shared with an adjacent chronological field, or are thematically narrow, and one is quite obviously a big, fat fake search, written specifically for an inside candidate.** Here's what I came up with in the field of History for medievalists:

No. Nevermind. I was going to post the numbers, but they're just not good, and no stressed-out job hunter needs specific triggers like this.

So, as much as Notorious wants to improve her working conditions, she is sitting this one out, and will merely be rallying to the support of her ABD and recently-graduated colleagues. If you know me personally, or if you are a fellow blogger, and on the market: I'll be at AHA, and coffee's on me.

**Seriously, people: I know that fake searches sometimes happen. I'm not sure if it's better or worse when they're so damn obvious.