Wednesday, June 01, 2011


I practice this recent fortune via dried greens and fermented tea.
by J J Cohen

Aiding me in getting work done:
  1. Blog posts. That essay on race would not have come together without incorporating two ancient posts on the topic: they were the clearest articulation I've been able to achieve of the subject. I also lifted a portion of a book review I once posted of Lee Edelman's No Future in order to help convert an essay on queer stones into a piece suitable for a collection where it is slotted into a section on the anti-social thesis and ethics.
  2. Preexisting writing. If all goes well I will have a draft of an essay today, my second almost-completed essay in a week and half. I'm cheating, though, in that both these pieces include chunks of conference keynotes and portions from other publications. Still, neither existed as it does today not that long ago.
  3. A soundtrack. Right now it is a heavy rotation of Diego Garcia, Fleet Foxes, and Great Lakes Swimmers, with some Mountain Goats and Decemberists thrown in. Quiet stuff.
  4. Dreaming up a new edited collection. I can't stop thinking about this idea and am developing it (I hope) into something important and fun. But I don't want to jinx it, other than to say I am thinking it'll be a chance to work with a press where I did much of my early work, and that's exciting.
  5. Sudden changes of scenery. I was so weary of editing my "Queering the Inorganic" essay today that I packed my computer and walked through the blazing 95 degree heat to the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights. I'd convinced myself that I needed to buy kale chips and kombucha, though in fact lack of neither would prove fatal. The 45 minutes I spent in the café there have been the most productive of the day: the essay is now at the required 6000 words.
  6. Facebook. Briefly checking in on social media can enable me return to my tasks refreshed. It's a good venue to vent, gripe, joke, and purge.
  7. Quiet. I'm working at home, undisturbed. The kids come home from school a little past 3. It's amazing how motivating that is.

Impeding my getting work done:
  1. Soundtrack. Having music with words can easily distract me.
  2. Dreaming other projects. What better escape from the work at hand than to imagine the more exciting work to be done?
  3. Facebook and Twitter. Too easy to spend more time there than I intend, especially when friends are being amusing. Damn those amusing friends. I need to surround myself with bores.
  4. Dark edges. I don't want to slip into a small summer funk, though it's likely inevitable, given my relative isolation at the moment.
  5. Looking at my Google Tasks list. To keep on top of the To Dos, I must compose a short essay from scratch by the end of Friday. By June 30 I also need to have those two draft essays in final form; complete a long overdue book review; and get the "New Critical Modes" issue of postmedieval off to press. Did I mention I have FOUR different conference keynotes to compose for the next season ... the first of which is in Melbourne? We depart for Australia July 23. Gulp.
  6. Blog posts. Enough said.


prehensel said...

Two suggestions for the soundtrack bit:

1) Red House Painters/Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon (Kozelek's *What's Next to the Moon* and Sun Kil Moon's *Ghosts of the Great Highway* are especially good).

2) For vocals, try something in a language you don't know. I always listen to Tish Hinojosa (*Dreaming from the Labyrinth* is my favorite right now).

dan remein said...

i agree with the fortune. yet--i believe one Mr. Egil Skallagrimsson was a certifiable berserk, and while he seems to have been an accomplished poet, i don't think he ever won a distinguished fellowship award...just thinking...

Karl Steel said...

Aiding me in getting work done: a sense that I didn't do enough in the book. The first thing I'm writing this summer, a chapter on 'The Former Age' for an anthology on Chaucer and Animals, is a large expansion of a page and a half of stuff in the book that just served as a kind of placeholder.

Sometimes I think the whole book is a placeholder and I'll spend the rest of my career trying to do it right...