Wednesday, May 16, 2007


You may remember that soon after Milo, the hero of Norton Juster's children's classic, The Phantom Tollbooth begins his fantastical journey, that he gets sidetracked in the malaise of the Doldrums, where he can barely muster forward motion.

Now, some two weeks (give or take a day) into my summer break, I find myself in the same predicament.

This time last year, as readers of my old blog may recall, I had a list of things to do a mile long, and hit the ground running, moving forward as if blasted from the slingshot of the school year. by the end of last may, I had three pieces off my desk.

This summer, I have a similarly large to-do list: for the collection, an intro to write, my own piece to revise, perhaps a co-authored piece to revise, the other selections to edit and the final proposal to polish up. Plus, I've got a book review due on July 1, two new course preps and an independent study to prepare for, and, good lord willing, my own book to return to--I must get that thing ready for the publisher.

So far, though, I've a lot. Eaten better. Mowed the lawn, laid down some mulch, planted a few herbs and pulled some weeds. Read one novel and started a second. (OK, that first novel was for one of my fall courses, so that counts. right?). Begun a process of collating and cataloguing all the pdf files of articles I've accumulated over the years into one electronic library (useful, but hardly urgent--maybe I'll post on that soon). Cleaned up my office. Really really well. I've found a few articles relevant to the collection I didn't have before. I've read a chapter or two, and started in on a few others, but hardly anything diligent.

I haven't been a total slacker, but I've done nothing with any, well, real forward motion. I know it's only mid-may, and at my PhD institution, I'd still be grading finals, but this is hardly the momentum I had last spring, and I'm worried that I'll have trouble picking any up at all as the summer blooms in earnest.

1 comment:

Sisyphus said...

But the doldrums aren't just stasis, they're a depressed/disheartened stasis. You sound like you were recharging, having some very important "me" time. (Or "you" time, to be more accurate.) You can't expect to go along consistently at a punishing speed, or even a less-punishing but high level speed. (having taken this to heart, I am still not done dissertating --- wouldn't want to burn out, now would I?)

Maybe you can promise yourself that if you write on your intro for a couple hours, you can go read the book to be reviewed somewhere really pleasant, like a garden or park. (I was going to say the beach, heh.)

I find that whenever I get stuck on one project I can procrastinate it with another project I have to do. Unfortunately, one committee member I take after has imperiled her tenure by writing about three books simultaneously. They're all about 80% done ...

Try not to go to that extreme.