This Week: Summer Plans

I haven’t disappeared or given up blogging! It’s just that as soon as my final grades went in, I had to buckle down and finish two reviews that have been haunting me — not because I didn’t want to write them, but because though I have had the books for some time and had even started reading them, it just hadn’t been possible for me to get the hard work of writing thoughtfully about them done. The result was that even though neither of them was technically late, I felt guilty for weeks! But one went in last week and the other today, and while I now have to wait and find out what the editors think, including what revisions they want, I’m out from under that shadow and ready to contemplate the rest of my summer.

It doesn’t look much like summer yet, of course. May weather in Nova Scotia is … well, let’s be charitable and call it changeable. We have had a couple of days–or at least afternoons–of beautiful sun, and the daffodils are in full bloom, but there has been a lot of rain and fog, and I’m not putting away the flannel sheets any time soon either. Sometimes you have to very consciously remind yourself how great it is not to be buried in winter anymore, because the relentless gloom and grey can be almost as depressing, even if you don’t have to shovel it.

However! Rain is perfectly good weather for taking stock and making plans, and that’s the stage I’m at now. I actually feel as if I need some dedicated time for that, because I’m not really sure right now what my top priorities are. I spent a lot of the last two summers doing work related to my promotion application: in 2015, I spent a buoyant summer preparing the application, a process that (ironically, in retrospect) made me feel very proud of what I have accomplished in the last decade or so; in 2016, I spent many dreary hours writing out appeal documents of one kind or another, trying to convince other people of the value of the work I’d been doing. Since the appeal was denied in November I have tried, with intermittent success, to focus again on my own goals and standards, but just keeping up with the day to day demands on my time and energy kept me from doing this in more than an ad hoc way. Ideally, the summer months allow for sustained reflection and work of a more expansive kind–but what work, of what kind? I know that I’d like to get back to writing more essays instead of just reviews, but about what? I have a couple of ideas and one fairly definite plan; it will feel good to clear my desk (and my desktop), set some priorities, and get to work on projects I am excited about.

I’ll settle in to do this after I get back from my vacation: I leave on Thursday, as soon as we’ve put our annual ‘May Marks Meeting’ behind us. It will probably continue to be quiet here at Novel Readings while I’m away (though I will have my laptop along, so you never know). However, I will be reading plenty (I’ve got Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In the Castle for the plane, for instance), and I will come back refreshed and ready to write.

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