It's 2006– now get back to work

Last year at about this time, I was resolving to get back to work on my textbook project. Well, that didn’t turn out so great.

My textbook project probably isn’t completely behind me because I think I still have some post-mortem work to do on that project, and also because it might yet have a life as a web site (that’s still being sorted out). Beyond that, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an article in this experience. Who knows.

But the textbook is mostly behind me. So, what’s next?

Well, 2006 promises to be a pretty busy year for me. Starting this term, I am the writing program coordinator at EMU. Basically, I’m the “lead person” for the undergraduate majors and the graduate programs, which means that I advise students, promote the programs, etc., etc. I’m teaching an over-load this coming winter term, mostly because I need to teach another online section of English 328 to further some scholarly projects. And because I like the class and I like the extra money.

I have a CCCCs presentation to get together and potentially an article sort of about my CCCCs presentation (again, another reason why I need to teach that online class), I have a speaking gig in early April, and I have to get together a proposal for Computer and Writing (which is also probably going to be about online teaching). And I think I am going to start reading and thinking again about my writing technologies before the computer project.

Oh yeah– I think I’m going to try to write a novel, too. But that’s not until May.

I read a great book while at the gym last month (my workout routine, to the extent that I have one, includes 30 or so minutes on either the bike or the elliptical machine while I read something kind of light) called No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. Basically, the book is a “field guide” to how to participate in the contest/dare that Baty started called “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to write the first draft of a novel (defined here as 50,000 words, which is really a pretty short novel– think The Great Gatsby) in 30 days. November is the designated month by the organization, but that’s never a good one for me. So I’m thinking I’m going to give this a try in May. I’ll have just enough schoolwork on my plate to keep me busy, and I’ll have just enough freetime to justify a folly like this.

ObviouslyHopefully, writing something that is largely made up is different than writing something based on research. But beyond novel writing, I think Baty’s book is one I’d recommend to anyone who is “stuck” on a large writing project– a thesis or a dissertation, for example. Baty’s emphasis is on turning off the “internal editor” that all too often stops people from writing anything in the first place. He has great advice on where to find time in a busy schedule to write, and he goes into useful detail in describing strategies for finding the right kind of place to write. Some of his tips come across as a bit goofy (having a “writing totem,” for example), but in a weird way, they have a ring of truth to them, too.

And like I said, his book is ultimately about revision because the point of writing a draft of a novel at break-neck speed is so you can take your time fixing it and polishing it later.

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