Native Speakers

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I spent ten days working with two different clients, a big architecture-engineering firm and a small college. Hung out with fun people, worked with my pal Jenny as we have every summer for the past seven, and was grateful to get home after about 1500 miles of driving over two… Read more »

Peak Faculty

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A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about “peak oil.” The idea was that we’d passed the midway point of easy crude oil extraction, and were now on the historical downhill side of petroleum. To some extent, that was good news; it signaled a peak of hydrocarbon emissions… Read more »

Decorum

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I wrote a few posts ago about rejection letters, a genre in which nobody ever says, “That book sounds really awful,” or “You write terribly,” or “You have no possible future in academia, as far as I can tell.” We’ve developed a veneer of civility over the whole thing, an… Read more »

The Pitch

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I’ve been following some writing blogs lately, mostly having to do with the world of submitting fiction to literary agents, trying to be noticed within the slush pile. And the general theme of the advice is that you have one paragraph with which to live or die. It’s only that first… Read more »

NOW What?

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I love those studies where we actually get to see how people spend their time through their days. I recently saw a set of logbooks from an adjunct faculty member that included five hours of e-mail in the course of an eleven-hour workday. And that’s no surprise: the work of… Read more »

How to Write

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Every year, my friend Jenny Shanahan and I lead a week-long writing workshop for faculty at Stevenson University, outside Baltimore. This summer will be the ninth time we’ve done it—it’s a lot of fun, and seems to be productive for them as well. We put together a booklet of writing… Read more »

The Story

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I spent an hour and a half yesterday at the mighty Northshire Books of Manchester VT, one of the fine independent bookstores still with us. (Buy nothing from Amazon, friends. Nothing at all, ever.) And I looked at the covers of two thousand books, and opened fifty, and bought two,… Read more »

Taxonomy

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We most often divide businesses like an org chart, into work groups and supervisory lines. And while that reveals some things about the institution, it conceals others. If you were interested in one lake, you might make an inventory of every living thing in that lake. That would be ecology…. Read more »

Throwing (Almost) Everything Out

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Loyal readers of this space will remember a post from a couple of months back in which I described the experience of winnowing down my old research files. That was one drawer. I’ve now done six, and as with that first round, I’m discarding almost everything, putting a strain on… Read more »

Some Folks Got Further to Go

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Note: This post contains naughty words. I didn’t make them up, they’re merely reporting. Just so you know. Take One: last summer’s movie Bad Moms, about the difficulties of modern expectations for perfect mommy-ness, has a scene in a restaurant where the three moms are talking about the ways in which their… Read more »