If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Work On The Work

I finished writing my annual review yesterday. At SouthLite we are supposed to tally up all of our "products" (research, teaching and service) for the year via a web-based system with an incredibly awkward interface and then write a "reflective" piece on each area. I was tempted to include my tenure packet as a manuscript. Honestly the amount of time I have spent on writing about my writing (and research and teaching and service) for the tenure packet, the teaching award application, and this annual review could easily equal two--maybe three--papers.

My friend, A-Girl, and I often commiserate on the "work-before-the-work," which is what we call all of the bureaucratic form-filling, back-scratching, somersault-turning shenanigans one has to go through within an institution before you can even start your research. I now see that academia has this on two fronts--the "work-before-the-work" and then the "work-on-the-work."

When do I just get to work?

All whining aside, my other revelation is that the academic year is very similar to the first year of mothering: you feel busy all the time, torn in multiple directions, don't get enough sleep, don't take very good care of yourself, feel like you are accomplishing a great feat if you manage to shower on a daily basis and at the end of the day there are very few tangible products--yet you can't imagine doing anything else.


Julie said...

I love how you compare your work to motherhood. It's how I feel about writing and the publishing world. It's different, of course, but all the hoops of putting it out there sometime come too fast.

I can only imagine all the work that comes before and after the work you really love! Have a great weekend.

drax said...

Great posts, thanks. A weird fact of my life these days that in the midst of constant chaos, writing---real writing---is always the first on the chopping block. Everything else seems to take priority. Weird.

phd me said...

I'm not a mother but I can completely relate to that analogy!