A ten (or so) minute post on sabbatical stuff so far

I haven’t been posting here (or my unofficial blog, for that matter) much lately, I suppose because I’ve been busier than I thought. Doing what? Well, in no particular order:

  • I would like to say that I’m making incredible process on my book project, but that would be an exaggeration. I am making some though. I think I am taking what I can only describe as the “National Novel Writing Month” approach to the academic/quasi-academic book project: what I’m doing is more or less writing as much stuff as I can by just sitting my ass down and just writing with the plan of going back later to do much rewriting based on reading and research. We’ll see how it goes.
  • I do have a survey of sorts in draft. Right now, I’m just sharing it with some friends/colleagues, and on Wednesday, I’m talking to someone at EMU about constructing this survey so that it will be workable.
  • I still have to do the paperwork for what at EMU is called “Human Subject Review” but which tends to be known as “Institutional Review Boards” or IRB. It is a pain, but for this project, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. danah boyd had a blog post recently where she listed the pain in the ass nature of IRB as one of the main reasons why she isn’t going to pursue an academic career. I can kind of see her point, especially given her interest in things like how minors use MySpace (minors always complicated permissions). But it is also kind of a cop-out IMO, sort of like saying “I don’t like putting my own gas in the tank so I’m refusing to take that cross-country trip.”
  • The verdict is still out on my “sabbatical lite” thing. I feel very pulled between two contrasting emotions/thoughts, one where my lack of teaching and general presence on campus makes me feel “out of it” regarding various department and program matters, and the other where I feel like the things I do need to do on campus because of the way I am splitting up my time is taking away from reading and research and writing. Push and pull. I think it might take a while longer before I know for sure how good or bad of an idea this will end up being.
  • I am also using my time as a bit of “time off” in the sense that I have been busy painting my house (the front is done) and generally fixing stuff up around here (next week, new flooring in the kitchen), and I have been trying to hit the gym as much as possible (though that is also where I do most of my scholarly reading). The truth is I’ve probably spent more time doing this than I have spent actually writing and reading. I at first felt quite guilty about this, because I earned this sabbatical based on a proposal that promised that I would write a book manuscript and that’s what I should be doing. But colleague after colleague have told me that a sabbatical is as much about taking a break and getting away as it is about anything else. The other morning, when the weather was beautiful and I decided that it was more important to take one more long bike ride instead of sitting in my basement in front of the computer, I recognized the point my colleagues were trying to make.
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