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The July Project

So while wandering around this morning before the children got up, drinking coffee and staring into the corn,

I came to a decision. I need a post-dissertation pre-history-manuscript deadline BREAK.

Ooh, let me tell you all the things I want to do instead of write history every day. I want to read a lot of fiction (not much of that over the past year), write some good fiction (haven’t done that for four years), write some bad poetry (twelve years), sleep until 7 AM occasionally, go for nice long runs, make cookies with the kids, keep a diary, memorize John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, practice my Korean (Rosetta Stone–lots of fun), work on the farm with my dad…okay, I know there was some other stuff in there.

(Yes, I know that’s not sounding like too much of a break.)

The point is that I’m not getting much of anywhere, post-dissertation, so I need to take some time off from writing serious nonfiction. As my wise friend remarked the other day while we stuffed ourselves with Mexican food, the problem with not taking a break when you need one is that you end up sort of taking a break anyway (you stall when you’re supposed to be working) but you don’t get the benefit of a real vacation.

I had planned to take a break when the medieval history MS was done. This, I think, would be a tactical error. I need the break now, not in June 2008. (Then I could stop WHINING so much.)

I mentioned this at the Norton booth at ALA last week, sort of obliquely. Can’t say it got a rousing reception. (“You could have a GREAT break once the manuscript is handed in!”) True, but pointless if I can’t get the thing done. Nope, I need to recharge FIRST. Then I can write some absolutely thrilling stuff about Frankish kings.

So here’s the July Project. I’m going to take the rest of July to finish off the dissertation revisions, and send the result off to the Anonymous Prestigious University Press that might publish it if the outside reader reports are positive. I can do this. It’s pretty close to the end, anyway. I’ve made a lovely chart of the manuscript flow,

I’ve moved all my dissertation stuff to the non-history side of my table, the one with the penitential chair on it,

and I’ve been through all my research and organized it into the relevant piles.

I’m two-thirds of the way through the revisions and see the end in sight.

Then I’m going to wrap up some research on the medieval history and get it to the point where I can re-open the manuscript and plunge straight back in.

Then I’m going to take August and September AWAY FROM MY BREAD AND BUTTER WORK.

(Waiting for the universe to shiver and fall.)

So I’ve got four weeks to plan my break. What would YOU read? What would YOU do? How would you recharge? Give me some suggestions. Can’t wait to see them.

(On second glance at this entry…it kind of looks like something other than a good idea might come out of that corn, doesn’t it?)