This had been a distracted year, but I finally abandoned (read: submitted) a chapter I’ve been (not) working on for about two years.
It has its origins in a conference paper and a lay version of that which followed, but I’d cut the references and aparatus to avoid over crowding a PowerPoint and then a non-academic publication.
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I have two sets of keys — one with front and back door, one with front and back door (twice), shed, bicycle lock, a broken display case key and what I hope is my office key. Outside of term time, I try to carry the smaller set.
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Academia depends an awful lot on goodwill. All those evenings and weekends and forty plus hour weeks. No, we don’t get long holidays.
I got an email out of the blue:
I wonder if you would be interested in evaluating an essay “Stuff and More Stuff in Someone and Somewhere Else” (abstract appended below), which has been submitted for possible publication in Stuff Studies.
Yes, sure, I do this kind of thing three or four times a year, and I’m reading stuff for Extrapolation, of course. I can be a little slow at it, I confess.
The email continues:
Unfortunately, we cannot offer payment or sample issues.
How vulgar! Of course, this is unpaid labour, it’s community service, it’s evidence of esteem. There’s a paying it forward … X reviews for journal editor Y who reviews for journal editor Z… It gets tricky when you approach an Independent Scholar who doesn’t have the same set of reasons for wanting to bank prestige. I can remember having a long phone conversation with someone who I asked to peer review who had left academia (or was forced out), who was upset for some reason. Fair enough, they’re free to say no. It’s part of the job if you’re in the job.
The only people who make money from journals are those who publish them.
The email concluded:
Part of our purpose in asking for your assistance is to draw your attention to Stuff Studies as a possible forum for your own scholarship.
This is kind of interesting… a salespitch? a sincere invitation? It just feels rather odd.
So… a couple of days ago I was going through the draft sent emails having realised I’d sent an important email to myself and wondering what else was stuck in the outbox. I found a message about a call for papers that I’d tried to send to myself but had somehow failed.
I reread it, thinking, interesting, but who has the time? I forwarded it to a grad student, thinking it might be his mug of Earl Grey.
I looked again — abstract by then, chapters by then, neatly bracketing the autumn term. That’s going to be my heavy term.
Who has the time?
And there I left it, and there was no more, until I was thinking about a book I really have to read Real Soon Now to apply to the Sekrit TTTTTTTT Projekt (or at least the proposal).
A project which overlaps with the Call for Papers.
I don’t have the time this autumn, but perhaps I should make a start this summer and that’ll have materials that can fit the Sekrit TTTTTTTT Projekt. And again I’m struck how often I chistel away at the block of marble to find the statue rather than build a statue from chickenwire and papier-mâché.
Among other things, I’ve been watching a horror franchise over the last month and have reached film six of seven — the idea being to get a paper proposal together for a conference which seemed as much an excuse to return to a particular town as anything else (although I reckon it will be a good conference). The paper probably would be useful context for the next Major Project.
But the deadline for proposals came and went earlier this week and I didn’t write more than a sentence of the abstract. Whilst publicly admitting defeat is usually the spark that makes me think OF COURSE — IT’S REALLY ABOUT … I think I shall admit defeat and stay defeated. (Of course, the organisers may accept a late throw in.) I shall blog the films in due course and will enter self-protection mode. There’s enough to write and redraft as it is.
You win some, you lose some.