Tuesday, October 01, 2013

bringing back a ghost

Remember the paper that wouldn't die?  Well, after its birth, I thought I killed it several times...then nobody wanted the remains...then I pretty much abandoned it in the woods to rot.

Well?  It's back...and I blame friendship.

I want to be perfectly honest here.  I spent the last three years trying to come to terms with the fact that I would never really be a scholar.  It took much introspection, much love from my family, much support of my friends...and a prescription of antidepressants.  But finally, I quit looking at myself as an academic, and the desire to sit and do scholarship slowly drained away from me.

And that, quite simply, is where I am.  I'm happy to no longer have to think about scholarship.  Oh, I refer to my writing when I teach comp, but I don't tell them the truth:  that I'm one of those teachers who is now talking in esoteric, unconnected terms, as I don't do the same kind of writing which I'm teaching.  And thinking about writing, about the writing process, all that is really just like an old stand-up routine to me.  I can pull it out at a moment's notice, run it through its paces, make it come alive for an audience...but it's no longer anything with which I have any connection.

But then there's this friend.  My friend lives in Europe.  He desperately wants to come back to the United States to teach, but the job market has kicked him several times.  I desperately want him to come back.  He's my best friend, and it's really weird to only be able to talk via video chat, with an eight hour delay between us.  And to do get him back here, we have to make him an exceptional candidate...which, as he's already the smartest person I've ever met, means padding the resume.

He ran an academic conference this year...and, thanks to video chat technology, made it an international conference (which, he was told, was the first time that had ever happened in his country).  He desperately wanted me to participate, but I had to turn him down.  I was getting swamped with work and fatherhood, and so I didn't have time to retrain my mind to think like an academic.  Furthermore, I had absolutely nothing underway.

The conference was, despite my non-involvement, a rousing success...so much so, that my friend is now putting together an anthology of the conference.  And even though I did not present at said conference, he really wants to publish...the paper that wouldn't die. And so, even though I would rather eat a raw rutabaga than do scholarship, I have agreed to give him the paper.  The only problem is that the paper is now really out of date.  If I was doing this honestly, I would probably revise the whole thing, but I refuse to get that much into scholarship.  So, my compromise solution is to do minor revision and add an afterward.

Today is my big writing day.  So, I went looking for my copy of the article which I reviewed and carefully marked a few weeks ago.  Nowhere to be found, of course...so now I'm back to starting from scratch.  I've got a bottle of Mexican Coke and a farmer's market apple.  I'm as ready as I will ever be.

You and me, paper? Let's do this.

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