Wednesday, January 15, 2014

bits and pieces

Well.  I generally feel like it's bad form to write blog posts about how you haven't been posting, so naturally, I'm going to do it.

You may have noticed things grinding to a crawl around here. I admit my time for blogging has dwindled. It's not for lack of interest, rather, for something much better: greed. Or perhaps I should just say: money.  This fall, I decided to pursue editing and writing projects that pay. Of course, when you try to make your hobby into your living, the hobby inevitably suffers.  That doesn't mean I don't plan to write here anymore--I do!--it just means I've had less time. 

And that will change.

It will change because the real drain on my time has been my book. What book, you say?  Ahh, yes.  That is the problem:

What book. 

I started a memoir almost 8 years ago when I quit my adjunct professor work.  The book traces my professional life from corporate ladder climber, to grad student, to my work as an adjunct English professor.  It culminates with my decision to leave academia (woops.  I guess I should have given you a spoiler alert!).  I've worked on this project for years in, you guessed it, bits and pieces, only carving out time when I wasn't child-rearing, grant writing, tutoring and/or cooking.  You can see why it's taken so long.  I hope.

But now, the time to publish is ripe.  The working conditions and employment prospects in academe have sunk to new lows and more people are speaking out.  While I'm participating in that conversation through twitter and on my other blog, Professor Never, publishing my memoir and telling my story would give me closure on that part of my life. I have a real sense of urgency about finishing.

So I've been working on it A LOT.  I can be a "bit" monomaniacal about writing projects. I have trouble drawing boundaries around the work, forgetting to drink water, cook dinner, or to go to bed.

The same thing happened with my dissertation.

The consequence? Everything around me crumbles into bits and pieces.

This blog, with a post here and a post there, looks as neglected as the parsnips that have languished in bits and pieces in my vegetable drawer since the last co-op delivery in November! 

And what's up with those parsnips anyway?!  And the turnips. And the butternut squash--these remnants of fresh stuff I've neglected nag at my conscience. Don't worry, we haven't resorted to McDonald's every night (or ever), but my meal planning is more haphazard, and my plans less ambitious.  I've been falling back on the greens I pre-cut and froze in October, or the almost-ready-to-eat beans I canned in September. I "forget" about the squash and turnips that need to be washed and chopped--egad.

At the same time, stores of other winter foods have dwindled to their own meager collection of bits and pieces: white potatoes, garlic and apples are in short supply from our co-op.  I could supplement with trips to the winter market, but I've reduced even those trips to bits and pieces as well, with late Friday nights and cold Saturday mornings collaborating to keep me home.

My herbs, which are way ready for the jar, still hang from my pan rack and other sundry places about the kitchen, begging me to bottle them up by dropping bits of themselves onto my counters in despair.  I sweep them up and wonder, should the pieces go into the compost, or our dinner? Who will know?

Even my primary paying job: tutoring, has grown sporadic.  I've cut back on my students to make time for freelance writing/editing jobs that I can do while the kids are at school.  But in the transition to finding new work, I have felt the spaces open up between appointments. Whether that's good or bad, shouldn't it at least mean I have more time to do the things I always used to manage anyway? You'd think.  But exercise, meditation, email maintenance (what a drag that's a thing now), laundry and Christmas thank-you notes (I've written only one) occur in smatterings. What good is just a "bit" of exercise or one clean "piece" of laundry?

It all gets sacrificed to the book.

Still, I have managed to step away from the memoir to write a few other related "pieces." I  published an article in Inside Higher Ed a few weeks ago. You can see that here if you want to read my post-academic rantings about the perils of seeking a humanities Ph.D.  I also submitted an excerpt from the memoir to a literary magazine back in October.  That rejection should arrive in my inbox any day, so I hate to even mention it.  But no worries. I will not crumble into bits and pieces when I get the news.  Like most writers, I'm an old hand at taking rejection. 

In the coming weeks, I will continue to make my book revisions a priority, but I will also try not to be such a stranger around here.  I miss this blog, the ideas it generated for me, and the small community that grew up around it (that's you if you're still out there!). You know I have bits and pieces of a zillion different posts floating around in my head. Writing here more regularly would clear my mind and hopefully help me to see the minutia of life that lies littered around me not as evidence of my neglect, but of my industry!