I have an abstract due today. I got up with The J early (it turns out this cousin-in-law works for/with auto mechanics or is an auto mechanic or whatever, but there is a shop and tools and experts willing to lend hands to help The J work on the car basically for free, but he had to be there at 8:00). Anyway, I got up to read.
I’m nowhere near done reading. Nor do I think continuing to read at this point is going to help me write the abstract any better than I actually can.
Here are all the things running through my head right now regarding this abstract and my idea:
- my idea is completely stupid
- my idea is pointless and I should be embarrassed at even considering sending it off
- I also think my idea is brilliant and will change the course of studies in this area as we know it
- there’s too much pressure in brilliance and I will fall short anything I plan to do with this paper just like last year’s paper
- I should just quit my job, stay in Home City, send for my stuff in Fancy Town, and bury myself in shame and pity under the covers never to show my face to the public again.
Yup, that’s where I am at with this. That’s where I am.
What will happen? When I’m done blogging, I’ll take the mutts out to make a peeps. Then I’ll feed them. Then I’ll go upstairs and write a draft of the stupid thing. Then I’ll go for a run and alternately think about the abstract/not think about the abstract. Then I’ll come back and revise it. Then I’ll mull it over some more. Then I’ll send it off to the chair, whom I know fairly well, with an email update about my life, an attempt to sell the idea, and an offer to shift the focus if need be in order to make it work for whatever he decides for his panel. Yeah, that seems a bit shady and desperate, but my relationship with the panel chair is such that I can do that without looking too desperate or too unprofessional, which is what I did last year and it totally worked after he told me the first draft of the abstract sucked and why, though he didn’t use the term "suck" because he’s too nice for that.
While I miss all my friends in Fancy Town, I hate to say it, I’m not looking forward to going back. I wish it were December 22nd again and I had my whole break ahead of me. Like I keep saying, I feel like it’s been non-stop since I got here and I haven’t carved out any time for myself. This is why my work does not get done. I don’t carve out time for myself or for it. I can’t balance my life now. How the eff am I going to do it when I have kids?? Oy. I can’t think about that right now.
I have been trying to think about a schedule for carving out research time for myself this spring. I think I have a work schedule conducive to it. Or at least right now conducive enough to get me into a habit. What it will depend upon is me being able to discipline myself to get grading and prep done while I’m on campus. Here’s the thing–on MWs, I’ll be on campus from 8:15-5:30. That’s a long day. I teach at 9:50, 2:30, & 4:00. There’s a lot of time between the 9:50 class and the 2:30 class. Three hours actually. It’s really not a great schedule because it means that the J has to go back home after his 8:15 class to take the mutts out on a long walk, but that leaves me on campus a lot. So since I have to get there early, the bulk of my office hours will be in that hour and a half before the 9:50 class. Then I think on Ms, I’ll do an office hour between the classes which gives me my required hours for the week. The rest of the time, I think if my office mate is in the office, then I will go hide out in the library and grade, prep, whatever. I’ve got to work at doing work on campus. When I have to show up on TR for meetings, I don’t have to be there until 2:30. So that gives me T, Th, and F mornings to work out and do my research and stuff. And because I need schedules and consistency, I need to pick a time and stick to it. It’s worked for running–I know I have a certain amount of time in which to do the task and it doesn’t matter how far I get in it but just that I run for the time specified. So I’m going to try that mentality for research. Right now, it’s not how far I get in the reading, how much I get written, but that I sit and do it for the specified time.
The next step then is to come up with an actual project for this "research" time. I have two ideas for this. One, if the abstract I write does actually get accepted for this conference, then that’s what I start working on. But I think rather than thinking about it as a conference paper, I might just start thinking about it as an article? Is that a good idea? And take the juicy part for the conference to get feedback? Or should I just think "conference paper" and then move to the next step? If it doesn’t get accepted, then I’m going to revisit the conference paper from last year and start turning that guy into an article. Since I envision this abstract as being part of the same larger project I envision for last year’s conference paper, I think whatever I do for one will spill over into work for the other one. That’s my hope in any case. We’ll see what happens.
All right, so now it’s time to get to work on that abstract thingy. Or the first draft of it at least.
ETA: Well, pushing one angle of my stupid abstract isn’t going to work. I don’t know how to tie it in to the argument as a whole. Perhaps if I had a stronger connection to a 19th century text or if the panel itself were strictly on pop culture then I could make it work, but at this particular moment, I am highly discouraged in my ability to pull this thing together. Perhaps if I had actually started on this damn thing back in December like I had planned… perhaps this is another notch in my line of them of things that I do to sabotage myself. Perhaps since we can take a train to this conference and do it relatively cheaply I should go to the conference to enjoy the conference, hang out and learn without the pressure of trying to write something since I can go anyway since it’s close, perhaps I should just forget about it. Or go with simply the pop culture angle. Back to the drawing board. The worst that could happen is I submit something and the chair rejects it.