I'm returning to the image that I used in my first post in this blog in order to mark a return to the blog itself. I've not written anything here for a good long while now and am very aware of that. I've been wondering whether I want to continue to writing here or not and why. Thinking about where I am now compared to where I was when I started this and about what I might want this platform to do for me now.
I've not been writing here, first, because I've been doing other things. Primarily service work, chairing a couple of committees and so getting my department and college ready for a major curriculum change that will be going into effect in the Fall. Looking back at my first post here, I wrote about not wanting to get dragged into service and hoping to use writing in this forum as a way of resisting that. That didn't work out, obviously, but I've also changed my attitude towards service somewhat - seeing it not as a time-sink but instead as a training ground for a potential move into administration.
Any further moves in that direction, however, will have to wait as I will be on sabbatical this coming year and have a lot of writing to get done during the year. But the context of my writing has also changed since I started this. Then, I was immediately post-tenure and wondering how I was going to continue to be productive as a scholar without the pressure that I had lived under for so long - to finish the PhD, to get a tenure-track job, and then to earn tenure. I was also feeling the release of that pressure in the new possibility of writing new and different kinds of things, things that wouldn't have "counted" in my tenure process, this blog among them. However, over the past few years my university has instituted a new workload policy that put the pressure back on and take that freedom away. Now post-tenure we have to continue to produce specific types of things at a specific pace (basically 2 journal articles in 3 years or a book in 5) or else our teaching loads will be increased. The administration likes to talk about this new policy as a way of opening different avenues for faculty in their careers, allowing people to "chose" to focus on teaching for example, but the way it has been implemented instead treats increased the increased teaching load as a punishment for unproductive or unsuccessful scholars. It is under this cloud that I will be writing over the next year. The work I produced in the run-up to tenure has kept me safe from teaching increases so far, but now I need to get new work out. And needing to get the work out is making it hard for me to do the work, making me anxious about the work that I am doing even as I am doing it.
Unfortunately, furthermore, the major project that I want and now need to be working on is a book that I've been working on, off and on, for years and that I have always been very anxious about. Partly because of the content - theoretical, feminist, not at all a straightforward piece of traditional scholarship. And partly because, well, its a book and I've never written a book before and don't really know how.After an initial consultation with a potential publisher it's clear to me that a major issue with the book so far is that the only reader it has had so far is, well, me. And it needs to start making sense to other people if its going to be published. So my thought is to use this forum to facilitate that over the next year so. I'm going to be doing a version of "writing in public," using the blog as a place to post bits and pieces of the book as I write them, looking for comments and suggestions. I hope it works. That's really up to you all.