Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Promises to keep...

I guess there's kind of an implied promise in starting a blog. It is that the blogger, the writer, will show up from time to time-- regularly even-- and contribute some bit of knowledge or wit or insight (or, lacking any of those, a few lame excuses) to the world. The satisfaction I derive from reading the few blogs that I do comes from seeing new content-- new posts full of news, interesting information, personal updates-- funny, poignant, useful, frivolous information from my friends.  It doesn't compare to hearing that your stock portfolio is taking it on the chin, but logging in to a friend's blog and seeing the same old post from a week ago is a little disappointing. I've been disappointing my three readers for awhile, I'm afraid.

The thing is, I've been keeping other promises. My family deserves to have me as fully "present" as I can be when I'm at home. In other words, rather than sitting in front of the computer thinking up witty, bloggy things, I should be actively engaged in the dad thing. That's a promise I made explicitly to my wife when we got married. Dad things come before work things. 

Work things have a place, too, though. It turns out that you have to show up at least part of the time to qualify to collect a paycheck. I've been working steadingly (and way too slowly) through mounds of student papers of late. I used to complain about that work as being the hardest, least-liked part of my job, but I've tried to change my tune recently. Because I believe that the feedback I give on student writing is one of the more important teaching moments I spend quite a bit of time on that feedback. In some ways I probably spend too much time (who knows how much students actually read what I write on their papers), and in other ways I probably don't spend enough time (when a student really wants to learn from an experienced reader longer, more involved feedback helps quite a bit), but the time I spend on student writing is also an explicit promise. Read your syllabus... the syllabus states...

Work isn't all about student writing, of course. There are also class sessions to prepare, books to read (hurray!), meetings to attend (grumble), evaluations to write, politicking to ... uh, politick (sigh), etc. I really do like what I do, so I'm not complaining (mostly), but it all takes time. Maybe a blog isn't my thing right now.

Then again, here I am... blogging again. 

3 comments:

Patricia Murphy, a resident of said...

Clark,

Yes, we missed you. But more importantly, I for one am inspired by your commitment. I've been using my blog to remind myself that there's more to life than all the things I can't do right now, but you can do those things, so you should be doing them.

On a family-related note, I just had a too short visit from my Massachusetts daughter, who always inspires me to be more optimistic, and who gives a darn good massage. Just what poor old broken down mom needed. There is truly nothing like family!

On a work-related note, I don't know about you but I sometimes wish there was a universal law about paper comments. Wouldn't that make life easier in some ways? I too know that I overdo it sometimes, and I worry that even with the positive feedback I'm giving some students will only focus on the negative comments and/or the grade. Man, we have a tough job! Don't you just love it?

In ISU-related news, I talked to the Big T a few days ago, and he said the faculty are voting this week on a five-year window for DA to Phd conversion, my term not theirs. So it looks like I'm off the island on that one, although said T told me to talk to Allan (sp?) Johnson, who is now apparently graduate adviser, about a petition. We'll see. I know I won't do course work, mostly because I'm stubborn and have 30 extra credits beyond what I needed for the DA, also because I've stayed current in the field, and finally because I really don't think we can honestly say there've been earth shattering paradigm shifts in English studies in the past five years. I'll quote the great Tbone himself, who concurred, by saying "Milton's still Milton."

So I have to really think this one through once I find out their decision. I toy with the idea of a sabbatical and doing residency there just to get it all over with, but I despise the idea of being away from home for a variety of reasons. Ah, the demons and dilemmas of academe! Good luck with your decision.

Take Care

Clint said...

I am one of the three blog readers. Keep posting.

Peetiedy said...

No worries sometimes life just gets in going and you just don't get to everything you would like too.
I hope you are doing well.