Tag Archives: Thomas Cole

the voyage, part 4


We end as we began, with Thomas Cole and a little uncertainty, now that our voyager has concluded her journey and it is time to call done-zo on this sabbatical.

Like its start, the end is hard to timestamp.  I have successfully avoided work and research and writing and most email for a whole week of “vacation” in an attempt to separate Sabbatical-land from Workville.  My new contract officially commenced on Aug. 1 but that was a Saturday, which hardly counts.  I am headed to campus, and work, for real tomorrow, Monday morning, in stockings and a dress and heels with a two-hour meeting on the calendar and buckets of email in my inbox.  That will definitely be Back At Work, which must mean Sabbatical Is Over.

Except that sabbatical activities are not all completely concluded.  In particular, manuscript/book stuff (and the inevitable screenplay, Hollywood bidding war, massive over budget film version, awards season, yadda yadda yadda) will ooze into life as a dean at my university.  The benefits of all the different pursuits of these months will linger on as well.  Probably the general sense of calm will ease away pretty fast, like novocaine from a visit to the dentist.  But the impact of all the travel, workshops, symposia, reading and writing, no doubt will last much longer; I probably only have a slight idea of what they all mean to me at this point.  So while it’s the end of one journey, it’s also the start of another.  I guess we should see the Cole cycle as that, returning back on itself to start anew.

And, speaking of that cycle thing: although I am heading back to campus with great anticipation for what’s in store, and more energy than I’ve had for a few years, I’ve already commenced counting down the months until I’m eligible for the next sabbatical–a superb gift in the voyage of academic life.

selfie with cole

so long, for now


the voyage, part 2


When I set up this blog  last spring, I drafted four posts that would appear at the quarter-marks of my sabbatical (no matter what I was actually doing at the time), each of them illustrated with one of the Thomas Cole series Voyage of Life.  (By Cole’s figuring, my sabbatical has moved from Childhood to Youth, which I like, since it looks like I still have lots and lots of time left.  Away with you, Angel of Death!)  Happy coincidence: part 2 commences just as I have crossed an important milestone in the project.  Yesterday I finished my second complete edit of the draft manuscript.  That’s thirty 5,000-word chapters in 23 full days of writing/editing (with very unruly end notes).  I now have a very tall stack of papers next to me, the first and only time the whole thing in all its glory (?) will look like that.

Editing has been just swell;  but now it’s time to face some scary stuff.  After years of drafting, outlining, researching, writing, editing, and being worried about it, it’s time to start the proposal for publishers.  But in the words of the great Aragorn, today is not that day.  Today is Thursday before a three-day weekend, so we will wait until Monday to start the process of selecting a slender portion of the Great Work to send with the proposal (and then eventually get around to winnowing this ridiculous pile into something more reasonable).  Today, I practice a bit of strategic procrastination: planning to sketch out a paper, drawn from the ms., for a conference in June.  The term “strategic procrastination” is my spin on John Perry’s “structured procrastination,” which basically means, have some little, not-horrible things to do when you can’t (for whatever reason) move forward with your big project.  It’s a great concept, swiped from his interesting blog, which you should check out.  That is, if you’ve got nothing better to do.

Cole’s big blustery four-part Voyage of Life is at the National Gallery.

PS This is my 50th post on this site.  Sort of a nice & noteworthy milestone.

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the voyage, part 1

ColePeople keep asking if I am excited about the start of my sabbatical.  On the one hand I want (and do) say why yes, yes I am.  On the other hand, I’m not quite sure when it really starts.  It’s not as clear cut as Thomas Cole’s voyager, who floats out of the dark cave and, voilà, his journey has begun.  Maybe it starts on the last day that I have real responsibilities on my campus (today); maybe it’s later this summer when I settle down from a series of very cool travel opportunities and into the big research project; maybe it’s on the first day of the fall term at 9 AM when I will be in my slippers drinking coffee and tip-tap-typing on a laptop rather than in serious shoes in front of a classroom full of sophomore architecture majors and revealing the wonders of the syllabus.

For lack of a better reason, for the sake of this blog, and recording (at least for my own sake) these fourteen months that I am more beholden to my muse than to an academic calendar, let’s say today.  At the conclusion of my university’s annual spring faculty workshop, I am donezo, bags packed, figuratively and literally, ready to take off on a great big adventure.

P.S. Cole’s big blustery four-part Voyage of Life is at the National Gallery.