the grid

the grid

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Week 7: Choose Your Own Adventure?

"For my part I can assure you that she had no idea which way to turn upon leaving the courtyard. Yet instead of inquiring, she took the first path she found. She rode swiftly along, uncertain of her destination, guided by chance, without servant or knightly escort. She sought far and wide in her eagerness to reach her goal, but her search was not destined to be brief."
-Chr├ętien de Troyes, "The Knight of the Cart"

I chanced upon that passage as I was reading for class last night and simultaneously (tell me I'm not the only person who does this) thinking about something completely different. In this case, I was reflecting on how I needed some guidance in picking out what aspects of my career to focus on in the coming year(s), which opportunities to pursue, etc.

My thoughts were stirred in this direction when I was tempted by a year-long teaching workshop that you can apply for here, which I've heard is very good, and which does interest me (and comes with a little stipend in the form of professional development money). But I'm also on a mess of committees, both service and graduate, and was planning to make a little extra cash teaching my first-year seminar again, and may be mired in book revisions next year for all I know, and ought to publish an article a year if I want to go up for full soon, and my fantasy life involves spending a year where my focus is really just beefing up a few languages, and and and....

And it dawned on me that I need to actually think about what I want my career to look like, which is something that I've never really done. I'm used to taking every opportunity that I can because a) I'm afraid to say no, and b) I--I just feel like I should, because doing more is better than doing less. Right?

So. This week's prompt, if you're inclined to comment, is about how/when/whether you've found yourself consciously crafting your own career, rather than being (as I have largely been) reactive. And, if you're like me, what might you do to start shaping your academic future, instead of leaving it up to the universe?

Last week:

Bardiac:
1. Organize the damned British Library notes.
2. Read the piece I realized I need to read. Take good notes!
3. Go pick up a botany book for the project.
4. Taxes.
5. Violin
6. Get some exercise!
7. The usual teaching gig!


Daisy:
1) More commenting on thesis chapters
2) Finish paper text
3) Send paper to all coauthors for comments
4) Do some planning for future lab work


Dame Eleanor Hull:
1. Self: the usual stretching, exercise, safe eating; make a couple of other appointments.
2. Teaching: catch up on the online stuff and award points; grade a set of papers; class prep.
3. Research: languages; upload a translation chunk; another round of MMP revisions.
4. Life Stuff: collect tax docs and list deductions; oil change; re-org kitchen cabinets.


Good Enough Woman:
1) Morning and evening pages 4x.
2) At least one SF short story.
3) Move like water on the Saturday theater-kids' field trip that starts at 4:30am and ends around midnight and involves a lot of driving.
4) Help son with his weird Greek god costume.
5) Walk 3x.
6) One 20-minute at-home yoga session.
7) Keep doctor's appointment.


heu mihi:
1. Write 30 minutes x 5
2. Meditate some amount
3. Revise chapters 6-8
4. Read/skim book for Silence
5. Read honors thesis section!!!
6. Read 1 grad exam document
7. Crafting: Either make some real progress on sweater for husband or buy supplies for another batch of beer.


humming42:
1 Work on pitch paragraph
2 Read reference materials for Jewels
3 Make a schedule for planned research projects
4 3x recherche


KJHaxton;
1. tackle the emails
2. do the small new semester marking task
3. prepare the teaching materials for next week
4. decide what to do for a writing retreat next week and prepare
5. work through the paper draft (assuming this isn't done as part of 4)



Sunday, 11 February 2018

Week 6: Touching the Letters


Earlier in the week, cartoonist Chris Hallbeck Tweeted:
I was doing an activity with my 5-year-old and then told him I had to go back to work and he said “Okay, go touch your letters daddy.” which is such an amazing burn. “Must be exhausting touching that keyboard all day. Did you hit all the letters yet? You’ve had all day.”

I found this amazing too, and charming. It reminds me of how we sometimes talk about “touching” our projects as a way to describe spending time in the research mode but not “actually” writing. Here at TLQ, I’ve used the word “recherche” (which is rich in meaning in French) as a way to refer to that time that is vital to the process but often neglected as valuable when we look at productivity via word count or time spent actually “touching the letters.” 

This week’s topic, if interested, is to consider the terms or metaphors used to refer to these projects of research/writing/papers/presentations we do and how the ways we refer to this work can have a positive (or negative) impact on our perceptions and our work.

Following up from last week:

Bardiac
1. Catch up on union work (I'm treasurer now).
2. Find 2 really good Hamlet articles for my senior seminar
3. Organize the calendar for the works my senior seminar folks decided to read
4. Prep the project for our student researchers meeting (Wednesday) and help run the meeting
5. Practice my new violin piece, and start incorporating vibrato practice
6. Do taxes
7. Organize British Library notes
8. Apply for grad student research help.
9. Do all the usual teaching and grading!

Daisy
1) Read student work and comment
2) Put all the cool conference discussions right into paper before forgetting them!
3) Finish paper text

Dame Eleanor Hull
1. Self: the usual stretching, exercise, safe eating; make a couple of other appointments.
2. Teaching: catch up on the online stuff and award points; grade a set of papers; class prep.
3. Research: languages; upload a translation chunk; another round of MMP revisions.*
4. Life Stuff: collect tax docs and list deductions; oil change; re-org kitchen cabinets.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Two hours x 4 on the sabbatical.
Walk 2.0 miles a day.
Three hours x 4 on the grant.
One hour x 7 on the novel.
Complete heels on first pair of socks

Good Enough Woman
1) Do prep work for Poetry Out Loud judging on Friday.
2) Article search (one hour)
3) Read one theory chapter
4) One hour editing article
5) 2-3 SF short stories
6) Finish "Dawn" by Octavia Butler
7) Walk 3x.
8) Morning/Evening pages 4x
9) Pay bills and make phone call.
10) Schedule mammogram

heu mihi
1. Read 4 essays/chapters for Silence
2. Novel: Revise chapters 5-7 (100-162)
3. Finish reading diss chapter
4. Read Honors draft
5. Meditate some amount
6. Run x 3, yoga x 2
7. 30 minutes of writing x 5

humming42
1 Actually set some deadlines
2 Work on pitch paragraph
3 Submit current book review
4 Read reference materials for Jewels

JaneB
I might squeeze out about three hours this week for TLQ, and it all needs to go on those horrible PRoblemChildPaper3 revisions which I had to get another extension for. Cough cough sulk.

KJHaxton
1. finish working through the paper draft
2. finish a hat
3. tackle the emails
4. submit ethics application

Susan
1. Really finish Way Outside
2. Finish dissertation chapter
3. Write self-statement for review, do bureaucratic stuff connected to it.
4. Identify secondary and primary sources for keynote
5. Walk three times

6. Work on 7 hours of sleep.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Week 5: Expectation, Meet Reality

This week, I tried keeping track of how much time I spent working. Of course, observation changes the phenomenon, so I found myself getting up an hour early (four days out of five) to write, and was much more carefully disciplined during my working hours than usual. And yet, as of Saturday--day 6 of the week, much as I hate counting weekends--I was only up to 35.25 hours.

Now we all know that different kinds of academic labor take different amounts of energy. Lying in bed and rereading a novel that I like and have taught four times before is much easier, and can be sustained for much longer, than drafting a conference paper, and teaching a low-level gen-ed class is (usually) much less mentally exhausting than a graduate seminar.

Still, though, I had hoped that I could put in 40 hours of work. I did leave town mid-day on Friday for an overnight at my mom's (she had a gallery opening on Saturday, for her first solo show), but I was surprised by just how difficult it was--what with attending to my child, doing the laundry, meals and clean-up, etc.--to put in an 8-hour day.

So I'm thinking about the clash between expectation, or maybe hope, and reality, and what can be done to soften that crash. Getting up an hour early every day (but one) made a huge difference in how much writing I did this week, but trying to finish up my workday in the evening sometimes meant that I wasn't very attentive to my son--and that's no good. In that case, my expectation for work done needs to be reduced in order to accommodate parenting. And I need to neither beat myself up for, nor resent, that reality.

How do expectation and reality come together (or not) for you? What can you do to move closer to meeting your expected, hoped-for goals, and where would it be freeing to release expectation in favor of reality? --And how many hours a week do you work? Because man do I feel like a slacker.

Check-in time:

Daisy:
1: Polish the 2 science talks
2: Try out keynote talk on patient friends
3: Work on figures and paper text, co-authors will be at conference so they need to see some graphs over beers...


Dame Eleanor Hull:
1. Self: the usual stretching, exercise, safe eating; plus another dentist appointment; make a couple of other appointments.
2. Teaching: catch up on the online stuff and award points; grade a set of papers; class prep.
3. Research: languages; upload a translation chunk; another round of MMP revisions.*
4. Life Stuff: bills and some other financial stuff; oil change.


Elizabeth Anne Mitchell:
Two hours x 7 on the sabbatical.
Walk 2.0 miles a day.
Three hours x 4 on the grant.
Complete heels on first pair of socks.


Good Enough Woman:
1) Pay bills and make that one phone call I need to make.
2) Maybe even do taxes? 
3) Walk 3x.
4) Morning/evening pages 4x.
5) Read intro of theory book and skim the rest.
6) Read SF novella (Binti) and two SF short stories.
7) Prep for husband's b-day.
8) Schedule mammogram (heavy resistance to this one)


heu mihi:
1. Meditate some amount
2. Run x 3, yoga x 2
3. Catch up on thesis reading (1 diss chapter, 1 Honors draft)
4. 30 minutes of writing x 5
5. Chapters 2-4 of novel (pp. 25-100).
6. Write up contest books.
7. Read Silence


humming42:
1 Figure out how to regain health
2 Submit Buildings, now TRQ
3 Work on pitch paragraph more
4 Set some writing and research goals for the year


KJHaxton:
1. catch up on emails about outreach
2. plan teaching for next few weeks to free up time
3. finish the Good Wife before it is removed from Netflix on 1/2/18
4. work through one of the paper drafts created in the writing retreat
5. look at the data for another paper to find the gaps


Susan:
1. Do the last footnotes and a last read of Way Outside
2. Write formal request for permissions if I get a contact.
3. Read diss chapter from grad student
4. Clean campus desk
5. Identify secondary sources for keynote, maybe write a bit more.
6. Make marmalade, start limoncello to use up citrus
7. Walk three times
8. Get at least 6 hours of sleep.



Saturday, 27 January 2018

Week 4: Retreat

The idea of a writing retreat continues to float around in my mind. I find it difficult to ignore the distractions of being at home--I can sit down and work for a span of time, but I’m taken with the idea of being in space and time where writing/research is my sole responsibility. Being at a conference where I don’t have many commitments has been a very good way to retreat when I have a hotel room to myself. I’ll have that opportunity in April and am very much looking forward to it.

Topic for this week: what would your ideal writing retreat look like? How have you been able to create the conditions of retreat when you’ve needed it the past? Any tips on how to design a mini-retreat or apply for a retreat or residency? Here’s a list of writing residencies in the US from last year if you’re interested: http://thewritelife.com/writing-residencies/#.vdsszs:m4F

Check in as usual: Prompt optional, report on last week, set goals for the coming week.

Bardiac
1. Prep classes!
2. Write a grant proposal (internal)
3. More birding!
4. Practice violin
5. Get some exercise every day.

Daisy
1: Work on figures (less intimidating than "finish"?)
2: Read student's thesis chapters and provide detailed yet supportive feedback...
3: Get enough sleep so I don't get kid's new cold (fat chance, but I can try!)

Dame Eleanor Hull
1. Regular stretching and exercise, safe food, enough sleep.
2. Touch work.
3. Keep up with online class stuff.
4. Be present with my family, be tactful or at least keep mouth shut, think things through.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell (carried over)
Compile list of research questions to answer before the sabbatical.
Walk 0.75 miles a day.
Three hours on the grant for four days.
Switch to first pair of socks and complete foot to heel gusset.

Good Enough Woman
1. Read intro and skim new theory book and take notes for article.
2. Grade all or most of the assignments I'll get on Thursday so I can give them back next Tuesday. I want to stay ahead of the game.
3. Do some homework/training to prep for the Poetry Out Loud competition I'll be judging in a couple of weeks.
4. Morning/Evening pages 4x.
5. Walking 3x.
6. One hour tidying campus office.
7. Have fun with the kids during my "Mommy weekend."

heu mihi
1. Meditate some amount. (I like this way of phrasing it!)
2. Read 3 Silence articles; sketch in notes about how to use them (if they're usable).
3. Look at NaNo novel and 2006-07 novel; make a decision about which to pursue right now.
4. Submit grant app for student group
5. Finish Contest Book 2

humming42
1 Submit book review
2 Edit Buildings draft
3 Work on pitch paragraph
4 30 minutes writing/research related 3x

Jane B
1) make an appointment to see my GP if possible
2) be kind to myself and put sleep before everything else on the list!
3) do revise and resubmit for Problem Child 3
4) finalise and send off two other newsletter pieces for Society Thing
5) do as much teaching prep as possible - I'd like to be prepped to the end of the following week (new lectures to write, sigh, if I even have a voice to lecture with...)
6) grade things (I have two large things to double-mark for the teaching fellows coming in this week, and need to collate marks from 17 other people (aargh) for my giant first year module)

KJHaxton (carried over)
1. Finish marking coursework and exam scripts
2. Finish draft of opinion article
3. make contact with people about outreach events
4. finish teaching admin for semester ahead
5. knit something else
6. plan victorian paper, gather references before writing retreat and write a significant quantity of the first draft

Susan
1. Really finish way outside
2. Request permissions for Way Outside
3. Start outlining keynote, figure out research/reading needed
4. Walk 3 times
5. Get at least 6 hours of sleep
6. Decluttering: 5 minutes per day of SOMETHING

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Week 3: Start Again

My old (grad-school-era) yoga teacher used this phrase all the time, but especially when he had us do short sitting meditations: "Has your focused shifted away from the breath? Start again." And we--or at any rate I--always needed to start again.

I find this refrain rather consoling, because it's a reminder that it's all a practice, even more than it's a process. To have a daily writing habit, you have to write every day--that is, you have to start again, every single day. (Or every work day, whatever.) It does get easier the more you do it; in that sense, it's a process where you can see yourself making progress. But a few days off--which happens!--means that you need to start again. And again. Thinking of it as continually starting, rather than something done or not done, provides a constant opening to opportunity: You can always start again.

And anyway, I need a re-start, after that bout of the flu. I'm more or less on top of my course prep (I start on Tuesday), but my research/writing goals have been seriously sidelined, and exercise is still a dicey proposition. So I'm going to try to start again this week, in some deep ways.

What about you? Do you already need a re-start in any area? Take one! Are there habits that you have successfully internalized, but where it might be helpful to think about it in terms of continual practice, rather than a goal with an endpoint?

Check in as usual: Prompt optional, report on last week, set goals for the coming week.

Last week's goals:

Bardiac:
1. Big one, for sabbatical, think about an adventure (or two)
2. Do some birding
3. Finish writing a review letter
4. Prep for writing a second review letter
5. Practice violin: work on bowing, especially!
6. Exercise at least a bit every day (shoveling counts...)
7. Start prepping classes (start in two weeks!)


Daisy:
1: Finish the figures!!!! Seriously...
2: Do reading for new literature review section on new project
3: Decide on new round of lab work and get contracts set up


Dame Eleanor Hull:
1. Research: Daily translation work; upload at least one chunk. Make plan for revising the last article. Fill in a form and write an e-mail.
2. Teaching: Start teaching notes. Do some more assignment-writing. Set up online stuff.
3. Self-care: see dentist; stretch at least once daily; cardio 6-7 days; weights 2 days.
4. House/Life: stuff from last week, plus pack for a trip.
5. Admin: annual evil documents.


Elizabeth Anne Mitchell:
Compile list of research questions to answer before the sabbatical.
Walk 0.75 miles a day.
Three hours on the grant for four days.
Switch to first pair of socks and complete foot to heel gusset.


Good Enough Woman:
1) Print and read chapter four (aka "Jenny").
2) Try (again) to find a bookshelf that will work.
3) 1-2 hours tidying office.
4) Finish reading gothic novella for class.
5) Morning (or evening) pages 4x.
6) Walking 3x.


heu mihi:
1. Meditate some amount.
2. Finish both syllabi; prepare Moodle pages.
3. Balance checkbook, pay bills, generally get my s*** together
4. Write letter for student group
5. Finish Contest Book 1; read intro and 1st chapter of Contest Book 2
6. Read 1-3 essays from Silence bibliography


humming42:
1 Submit book review
2 Edit Buildings draft
3 Work on pitch paragraph
4 30 minutes writing/research related 3x


JaneB:
1) do revise and resubmit for Problem Child 3
2) write some newsletter pieces for Society Thing
3) do some teaching prep
4) grade things
5) be kind to myself


KJHaxton:
1. Finish marking coursework and exam scripts
2. Finish draft of opinion article
3. make contact with people about outreach events
4. finish teaching admin for semester ahead
5. knit something else
6. plan victorian paper, gather references before writing retreat and write a significant quantity of the first draft


Susan:
1. Finish way outside. I got final comments just before Christmas, and I just need to sit down for a few hours and do it.
2. Start permissions for way outside
3. Finish organizing my desk 4. Read grad applications5. Walk 3 times plus 3 times workout. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Week 2: Planning & organizing

Welcome all to week 2! Classes start for me this week, and I am working through reorganizing my schedule and my routines, as many of us are. In this reorientation, I’m noting Daisy’s shout out: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN, ALWAYS. The trouble I’m in right now is that I write everything down, four times. On the computer, there’s a to do list and a spreadsheet. On paper, there’s a to do list in my notebook from the first-of-semester planning meeting, in addition to the bullet journal style monthly list I already made. I need to consolidate all of this and do just one thing.

So topic for this week: What system(s) of planning and organizing do you use? Apps, websites, journals, calendars, notebooks? In addition to managing life and work, and making deadlines, I expect many of us are also accountable for reporting on our progress/accomplishments. My faculty activity report is due Monday, and I am seemingly not nearly as careful about keeping up with things as I was pre-tenure.

Wishing you good health and warmth this week!

Bardiac (wasn’t sure if these were weekly goals or session goals)
1. Big one, for sabbatical, think about an adventure (or two)
2. Read a book of poetry (for fun)
3. Finish writing a review letter
4. Prep for writing a second review letter
5. Practice violin: work on bowing, especially!
6. Exercise at least a bit every day (shoveling counts...)

Daisy
1: Finish figures for LP
2: Finish other two abstracts which are now TRQ
3: Sleep off back-to-school bug

Dame Eleanor Hull
1. Research: Daily translation work; upload two chunks. Make plan (or find old plan and review) for revising the last article.
2. Teaching: Syllabi for two classes. Start teaching notes. Do some more assignment-writing.
3. Self-care: see doc (done this morning); make two more appointments when referrals come through; stretch at least once daily; cardio 6-7 days; weights 3 days.
4. House/Life: some financial and filing things. Keeping this minimal as I focus on pre-semester prep.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Send guidelines to the senate committee for wordsmithing.
Finish two staff evaluations.
Revise the outline for chapters 1 & 2 of Prudence.
One more week of walking 1.5 miles a day.
Two hours on the grant for five days.
Another foot of the lace shawl.

Good Enough Woman
1) Print and Read Chapter 4, thinking about what could be cut.
2) Read one critical article/chapter.
3) Finish SF novel.
4) Find a plant-heavy dinner recipe.
5) Walk 3x.
6) Buy or order bookshelf.
7) Spend 1-2 hours tidying campus office.

heu mihi
1. Meditate some amount.
2. Read first 6 chapters of Contest Book 1.
3. Bibliography for conference paper (hereafter Silence. My three projects this semester are Silence, Wonder, and Impatience. And those aren't even pseudonyms!),
4. Prep 1 syllabus/course.
5. Letter for student group.

humming42
I have to report for jury duty Tuesday and hope it won’t wreck my week)
1 finish book and submit book review
2 write outline for Jewel article
3 edit Buildings draft
4 finish book and write review
5 write and post syllabi

JaneB
On rest & recovery

KJHaxton
1. Mark coursework and exam scripts
2. write draft of opinion article
3. make contact with people about outreach events
4. finish teaching admin for semester ahead
5. knit something else