Goal: find files, put things in order, really start to write.
Actually: I put in the time but the way I used it is, I found one file so rich I just read it and am rereading book it is based on, which is kind of a motherlode book as I now understand.
In the writing group, each weekend we report on progress toward the week’s goals, set next week’s goals, and analyze roots of success/failure so as to succeed more. We also meditate on the weekly question. This week’s questions were deep. I answered but I am expanding upon these answers here.
1. What does success mean for you in the context of your Work, not of the employment or study within which you do that work?
♦ I like to be in the process of thick, high level research, and I like to write.
♦ I like to share research ideas while working, not just when I have finished a piece of something, as one does at a conference. I mean, I like to be in touch with people who are working on the kinds of things I do and exchange views. I like to do this because I think well in conversation.
♦ I like to travel to archives, discover new things and have interesting cross cultural experiences in the process; meet foreign colleagues and be in touch with the way things work elsewhere.
♦ I like to see my finished prose, and feel intellectual growth.
Commentary: Notice how all of this is about high level work. I instantly feel the need to defend my right to these tastes. But I really am a repressed researcher and this is my happiness problem. I feel guilty about having these tastes. But this is to remain loyal to the enemy, really.
2. How do you keep your eyes on that goal and reward progress towards it?
♦ I do not keep my eyes well enough on it and this is my problem.
♦ The writing group is very helpful.
♦ The Mayhew, Dame Eleanor and Undine blogs, which are like reading groups, are good for interesting remarks but more importantly because the authors are not concerned to become other people than they are.
♦ My dark secret is fear/shame about not
being the right kind of teacher knowing my place. I feel I have sinned in some way, I should not have the tastes and desires outlined above. I am dogged by the impression that survival depends upon renouncing these. I should be a teaching-first person, teaching intermediate undergraduate courses should be easy and should be my first pleasure, and research and writing should be hard and uninteresting.
♦ My other dark secret is having
academic scholarly values, certainly not technical school or business values, and I can articulate them (this is the sin). I have actual Left politics (academics are moderates) on the one hand but I am a true traditionalist on the other. Reading in the original, citing the standard edition, not assigning anthologies; believing the university is the faculty and the library and that administration is staff. I feel I should repress these values, because I do not deserve to hold them and because they are just quaint, anyway.
♦ My third dark secret is feeling I should want to put Hispanism and SLA first when really I want to put Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies first. I do not see myself as a worker in a national language first and I feel I should. I feel my first priority would, if I were a serious person, be those areas where a working knowledge of relevant languages is not already assumed. I should be interested in different courses than I am. In truth this is not a deficiency, it is just an orientation, but I feel it is not my place to have the interests I do.
3. How do you protect yourself from being drawn into chasing after the wrong kind of success, or setting yourself up to fail?
♦ I have, largely, failed to protect myself. Indeed, I have thrown myself upon the pyre, as it were. The way I used to protect myself was to keep my eye on actual scholarly values and stand in my real research being, at least within myself, no matter what was happening around me. At one point I had an identity crisis (see above: I think I should be someone else) and I lost touch with that ability. Later I started my blog to cultivate, not even my research identity but the person standing behind it, who had been almost entirely erased. Now I am using it to cultivate my research identity.
♦ In answer 2, above, I list three ways in which I practically drown in chasing after the wrong kind of success. It is difficult because these are the kinds of non-success one is supposed to want: one is supposed to renounce one’s arrogant research identity and grow content in pedagogy. I have tried this because it appeared to be what one had to do to survive (I realize that will sound very strange to people who have only worked at R1s, but this is my experience). I think I should protect myself with research, as the first point in this answer suggests. I fear that untolerably painful things will happen if I spend time on research and I have reason for this, but those things are not going to happen now.
♦ I think chasing the kinds of success I do does set me up to fail. It has been impressed upon me many times that I would not or should not do valuable research, that I must convert. I chase these forms of success because I want to live, but except insofar as they permit that they are not the forms of success I desire.
But I do not have really good answers to this third question now, no solutions sure to work, no certain protection. In the past few months have had two separate colleagues who did not know, ask me what happened to me back then. They were acknowledging that something had happened; I liked the question for that reason. Neither of them knew me back then, they did not know me before, and their asking that question indicated to me that I still show through.
Coda: The world was so different not so long ago. For women in academia and other careers it really has changed for the better. There was so much one was not allowed, and so much one renounced out of hand.