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Monday, December 7, 2009

My Very Good Year

In 2006 I thought I would write an article every month, or at least start out the year by doing that. I made a list of several ideas, and got to work. In January and February I wrote an article on a book called Intravenus, which was rejected by Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, another on Valente and Beckett, which was turned down by Hispanic Review and then accepted by Comparative Literature. In March I wrote a conference paper on Lorca and Kenneth Koch to give at the AWP. All of a sudden I realized that the Lorca project had to be a book rather than an article. I scrapped my article a month project and wrote up a grant proposal for the NEH, which I was awarded in December. I finished the Lorca book during the 07-08 academic year, somehow got my other book accepted around the same time, and had two books come out in 2009, as my promotion to full professor took effect.

Somehow I attribute all that "good luck" to starting off 06 with an ambitious plan and frontloading the year with some very intense writing. I could have ended the year with just a few articles, a few rejections, and been perfectly happy. Instead, I got my groove back and had a run of four calendar years of high level scholarly production and success. If I could somehow figure out how this happened then I could derive a realistic method that other people could follow too. For the time being I would say that the only lesson I can draw from this is to study successful people and see how they do things. Evaluate how they work and try to find realistic ways of applying those methods, even if in very modest ways.

I have a problem in that I associate success (for myself) with traits that I view as somewhat negative: my competitiveness, excess of ego, grandiosity, desire for fame and fortune, etc... I view ambition itself as somewhat unseemly and want to be perceived as a "nice guy." Yet if I don't publish as much I tend to get even less nice because I am miserable. I've tried to hold my ambition back but it doesn't work.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

This is the difference between you and me. Last year, when I had 2 articles rejected in a row, I chewed over my misery for 6 months, and did absolutely nothing else. Which is not good.

People need to hear more stories like yours in order to remember not to give up so easily.