Invisible writing

Writing from home is not a big change for me. I usually go back and forth a bit more, sometimes working in my campus office with the door closed on days when no one expects me to be there. That has its advantages. I try to keep all of my professional library there since shelf space at home is limited. Even then though, I end up backpacking books back and forth. The photos below show three things.

First, the books left on my desk when I had a bunch of ladies over (non academics) Monday night.

2014-02-13 09.40.30

Next, the books in my “reading room,” also visible Monday night, that I’m sifting through for my current project, a chapter on steampunk, romance, and gender.

2014-02-13 09.38.01

Finally, the migration. Except for one book, I am ready for the midpoint writing and need them all close at hand. My editors have given me great review comments that will help me double what I have right now and also make it a more focused and understandable chapter.

2014-02-13 09.42.05This chapter is far more book-heavy than most of the scholarly writing I do, probably because it is more centered in literature than rhetoric or gender studies. Rhetoric and gender are how I enter the subject, but the book is a collection about steampunk, and that means literature, film, artifacts, art, and even how people present themselves.

Only one of the women who were at my house on Monday said anything about the books. For most, professors read books, and the labor and the why behind it will always remain invisible–not real. One did notice and it’s probably no coincidence that she’s a lawyer. She saw the books and saw the labor as real and thus my sabbatical as real work.

Writing as work is an odd one. For many people, it is an arcane form of magic; if you are a writer, well, then you write. Poof. Their own struggles with writing from school have no connection to writing that others do in real life; because they (post-school,  non-academics and non-writers) found it to be work, that meant that they were doing it wrong. Oh, if that were only the case, but I know that writing is still work. It takes effort and time. As process theory ages, I would think that more people would see writing as a learnable skill, one that takes effort, but a worthwhile effort that has results for those who put in the hours, days, and years it take to develop as a skillful and polished writer. However, a weird belief in writing as magic still exists, a belief that intermingles inborn talent and hearing the voice of the muse, and it keeps this part of what I do as faculty invisible. A laborer earns respect. A savant does not have the same effect. I’m glad at least one of those women were able to see the work going on behind the curtain.

 

Posted by

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s