As I’ve blogged about before, I’m not all that big into making New Year’s Resolutions on and around January 1st. For me — and for many other academics I know — it is the start of the academic year that gets me thinking about what I would like to do differently, areas I can improve in, etc. The fresh start of a new school year always seems to me like a much better time to make these sort of grand plans than the snowy, cold days of early January do.
As I take stock at the end of the summer I am, for the first time in my academic career, pleased with the amount of work I did over the past 4 months. Did I get everything crossed off the very ambitious list I made back in May? No, but I got quite a bit of it done. I finished up a couple of very big, daunting tasks that have been hanging over my head for…oh…well, quite some time. I also got some new writing done and have reconnected with the research I’ve been wanting to work on for a while. I took a couple of vacation-style trips (camping and hiking! yay!), but didn’t travel extensively for research this summer. I stayed home and processed/worked on the research I’ve collected from places like the British Library and Library and Archives Canada over the past few summers. One of the things that was giving me a considerable amount of angst over the last few years was that I’d gathered all this great stuff but have not found time to really work with it. It was really great to get in to this material in a meaningful way this summer. I was chatting with a friend and colleague about this a few weeks ago, and she said that she thinks this is pretty standard. That you either have to commit to travel and visiting archives/research sites in a summer OR commit to writing and processing the research previously gathered.
At any rate, I’ve begun working through the material I collected over the past few summers and am starting to see the work I want to do on this subject come together in ways that continue to excite me. My resolution for this academic new year, then, is a simple one — to keep this momentum going through the fall term. In order to do that I know I need to protect my research days with as much vigour as I can possibly muster. Term started this week and I’m happy to report that I stubbornly clung to this plan in spite of the whirlwind of meetings and back-to-class activities that are taking place right now. Let’s see if I can make it last right through until my sabbatical begins in January!