If I've learned anything about myself in the past decade or so, it's that I tend toward overly ambitious plans, each summer, each semester, each week, even each day. But they are only slightly overly ambitious. Just enough to keep things from seeming paralyzingly impossible, but more than I can accomplish so that I can always conjure up a wee bit of self loathing, the fail-proof spur to a quasi-productive day or week.
The problem now is that I know my own tricks. And the other problem is that my daily life has changed so radically that I have lost my sense of what is too much and what is too little. Some days the victories reside in answered, typo-free emails. So I'm trying to be even more reasonable than ever.
I'm working on a book chapter for a historiography collection, and I'm lucky to have an excellent co-author on that piece, someone who plans a little like I do. We've both been augmenting and grooming this piece by turns for a few months, and it's starting to take shape. That piece will get done. (Do you hear that, co-author? Yay.)
Then there is the contribution to the companion to propaganda that I agreed to write. I probably should have said no to this request, but it had just the right mix of elements--a finite task, a challenge to stretch myself beyond where I normally work, a terrific pair of editors, the chance to bring rhetoric to a larger table--that I said yes. I hope I don't regret that.
There is a book review I asked to write on a sport and rhetoric collection, mostly because I'm curious about the collection itself, and also because I just plain like to write reviews.
And finally, there is a short--very short--piece on animals that will be part of a forum in Philosophy and Rhetoric. I have lots of ideas for that one.
Of these four (seemingly) tidy tasks, the last one is the only one related to the research that I really want to be working on this summer. And once the other three are finished, I have vowed not to commit to any writing- or research-related task unless it funnels directly (or nearly directly) into the animals book.
The summer stretches before us, but two months will move with unsettling speed. Rereading this list, I see that some of this work will probably spill into the fall semester, but I'm going to try my damnedest to prevent that from happening. Which means I need to get going.