I made a conscious choice at the end of last summer that I would take this summer off from teaching to re-focus my writing and research. Sam Houston State University is generous in their summer course teaching loads, which can augment the traditional 9-month faculty contract, but the relentless grind of an academic year leaves little time for thinking, much less intense writing. Extending this into summer has really hampered many projects in the early years of my formal academic career.
So in these early days of my summer writing, thinking, and reading I have been focused on clearing some projects, or at least giving them the attention they deserve. There are half-written articles and slews of ideas that need my care.
This week I have been wrestling with a now-overdue manuscript for a book chapter that I consider critical to my ethical commitments to the field; commitments that only seem even more important given some of the incredibly oppressive situations that occurred for me and many colleagues in the past year.
I’m approaching this project with a very post-qualitative, theoretically entangled commitment. I’m writing non-linearly. If one thinks with theory, then one must really sit with theory, allow theory to marinate, re-read, write marginalia, and talk to theory. Yes – I talk out loud when I’m reading and writing. Were you a fly on the wall, you might here me say Yasssss or What are you saying to me? or This seems important, though I’m not sure how just yet.
Working and thinking with theory is slow. Critical theory is not necessarily beach reading. But since it requires such care, since one must read the footnotes and sometimes traverse to other reading in order to unpack that which another theorist is saying, means that we must open the space for it in our lives. This is part of what my [summer] writing is revealing itself to be about.
Throughout the week, as I’ve been working on finalizing these pages, I’ve come to realize that I must also trust what comes to me in my thinking. I must not become so bogged down in believing I must understand some concept or idea that when the synaptic firing of my brain takes me somewhere else I shut it down or ignore it. Thinking with theory means we are thinking across divergent reading, experiences, and memories. A sentence may invoke me to recall a book, an article, a song or poem. This week, as I’ve been having this experience, I’ve trusted that those entanglements are occurring for some reason I may not understand, but must trust.
As you read, you think. As you write, you think. I’m relishing the slow time I’ve given myself to be in this space of writing and thinking – not rushing because of all the other tasks I need to attend to, but just writing slow, thinking with passion, and living the questions.