Tuesday, March 13, 2007

figuring things out

winter quarter has been exhausting.

during the fall quarter, i kept thinking, this is it? this is what it means to be a professor? i was teaching, putting off my writing, and thinking that the life of a professor was not much different from being a graduate student.

i was mistaken.

we've had departmental meetings almost every other week this quarter, focusing on merits and promotions. that is, we have to evaluate the files of our fellow faculty and decide whether or not they are worthy of promotion. needless to say, i feel less than qualified to be making these decisions. and i'm terrified of my own review, which will take place this coming october/november.

in addition to the meetings, there have been the job searches. my department isn't recruiting, but there are searches in other departments that could mean joint appointments with us. that means that i've been attending job talks, meeting with candidates, and debriefing with other faculty members on whether or not we think that they would be a good "fit" for our department.

(can i just say how different it is to be on the other side of the job/interview process?)

all of these "extracurricular" activities make up the "service" component of my job. the third thing upon which i'll be judged when it comes time for tenure--research, teaching, and service.

so now i know. and i'm tired! but i have six more years to go. and yes, i have already been told that the clock is ticking (the tenure clock, not the other one!).


Sunday, March 04, 2007

on writing

when you earn your ph.d., one of your biggest feats is producing a dissertation. most dissertations range between two and three hundred pages. it seems that, on average, people take between one and three years to write them.

i started writing my dissertation on fellowship in santa barbara. my only obligation during my first five months as a fellow there was to write. and so, i would get up every morning with writing in mind. on good days, i would go for a brisk run along the coast. i would drive to a coffeeshop, obediently toting along my laptop, which, in those days, did not have wireless capacity. i would order a cup of coffee, and i would write.

my goal was to write three pages a day, five days a week. some days, i would reach my writing goal in one hour. other days it would take me four. some days i spent revising. most days i drank several cups of coffee.

it was an extremely productive time for me. i didn't have any friends in santa barbara. some days the only people i would speak to in person were my baristas. sometimes i think i ordered a second and third cup of coffee for the brief human contact it would allow me.

though isolating, writing on fellowship was a luxury.

after i finished the diss, i decided that i deserved a break. a year passed. in that time, i was productive in other ways--mostly teaching. but still no writing. and now this lack of writing is beginning to matter.

(to be continued)