Summer Work

I’m not even going to pretend that summer isn’t work, but I did think that this summer would be the kind of work that can seem more like play. I would write a chapter, present at a conference, go to a poetry retreat, redo my poetry manuscript, and not go on campus. All of that happened except for all but work-notes for the manuscript and actually writing the chapter, which I’m doing right now, but I have to think about why the list that doesn’t seem so long in my head seems longer in text. That probably has something to do with magical thinking. I also need to think about off-list life.

Off-list, I had to move my mom from assisted living in another state to here, and I’m still dealing with the details because she can’t. I got used to having only my own personal life to deal with, and I now have a family member in town for the first time in a long time. There will need to be boundaries, but I also predict reduced stress over last year. It’s hard to deal effectively with a string of medical crises from five hours away. Good as all this will be, it took a lot of time. For now, it still does.

The biggest time-sap this summer was getting bronchitis. It pretty much erased June and part of July for me. I rarely get sick and secretly believe that strength of will can overcome illness if your desire is great and the list of things you have to do is long, but trust me, bronchitis combined with non-stop asthma defeats strength of will. Breathing is not an optional activity. I am so grateful this did not happen during the school year, but oh my, it turned a summer with plenty of time to think and write into something else.

I always have a lot of Moon City Press things to do in the summer, work that is accentuated by the fact that there is no production assistant until fall. Luckily, Moon CIty Review 2011 came to press flawlessly, and the two other books finishing up in the summer were also well planned. We found a little money for an assistant and some mailings got out sooner and other work got done in a more timely manner. I don’t know why I never put this stuff on my list. Do I really think that I won’t have to put in editing hours in the summer? And how did I leave editing jobs for Computers and Composition of the list? I ended up with a peer review and I knew there would be work for the special issue I’m doing with Liz Monske (out March 2013, abstract were due 8/8). If I’m going to do lists, I should be more accurate.

Finally, when I made my summer list, I must have thought that my course preps would magically get done. Oops. Also, I forgot that grad students continue to study and graduate during the summer, but even though that meant summer work for me, the closing activities for the M.A. in Writing are a joy because I get to see how students put things together. I had the privilege of assessing two comprehensive exams and gave two oral examinations, which I feel is kind of an honor since the students pick the faculty member they want to give the exam. I wouldn’t have missed any of it. There’s some smart new M.A.s going out into the world, some to Ph.D programs, some to teaching, but all unique and with much to give.

I suppose I should give up planning, but I won’t. I have seven workdays until fall semester. What should I do? How about a prioritized list…

 

 

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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