It has been an interesting start and I've managed to stick largely to the rules I set myself (see 1st post). I've started at the start and I'm writing in a linear way, both chapter-by-chapter and within each chapter. I'm not editing as I go or worrying about it being quite right yet. I've written more than my target words each week / day, though that's also meant I've gone WAY over the chapter limits I set myself. But I've not worried about it / will edit later (for a sense of what WAY means - I should have 21,000 words at this point and I've more than 34,000...). Looking back at the proposal though, I don't think I'm going overboard and it's a case that the plan was far to ambitious in terms of what would be covered in the words allocated. But again, I'll edit that when I've a full draft.
I've worked almost exclusively on the book for the past 9 weeks. At times, a little too exclusively. About half way through that I realised that I needed to find a slightly healthier way to work. That became quite a literal issue when a muscle in my back spasmed... Part of the problem is that before starting working on this I was Programme Co-Ordinator and Senior Tutor for all of our geography programmes at Plymouth. That translated into constant interruption. So, often, while I'd try to sit down for a long time to work on something, I was perpetually interrupted and so ended up down corridors speaking to people, talking to our professional support staff, etc etc. Being on sabbatical and working from home has meant almost no distraction (other than toddlers and cats demanding cuddles / strokes, respectively). That translated into me sitting down at my desk at 8.30-9 and staying there writing / thinking / reading / writing for hours and hours on end. It's reach time to get my daughter from nursery and I'd realised I hadn't left the house since dropping her in the morning. And I was absolutely exhausted because of the work I was doing. A lot of the admin I did before wasn't exactly mentally taxing so gave me a break from thinking to hard. I've totally lost that type of semi-down time.
So, a few weeks ago I worked out a schedule for my days. There are some subtle differences for each day based on things like when my daughter is or isn't at nursery, but each generally consists of the following:
1) a trip one of a couple of favourite cafes where I tend to get on with writing. Normally I can get my day's words done then alone...
2) some kind of exercise / going outside for a walk. I'm lucky to live next to a large park so I've worked our a few 15-20min loops to walk.
3) set periods at home for writing (usually no longer than 3 hrs)
4) set periods at home for reading (usually around 2 hours long)
5) some time to do something that doesn't involve a lot of thought (emails, research related admin, writing up some notes from reading, some 'data' transcription I've got to do etc.)
This has seemed much healthier and I think now that I'm a couple of weeks into the official sabbatical period I'm losing the slightly panicked feeling that 'must make it count, must produce, might not this sort of opportunity again' etc.).
But all that said, I'm setting the NRT book aside for the next 8 weeks or so. I tend to work like this normally, just on a different scale, when it comes to articles etc. I'll work on one fairly intensely then leave it aside at an appropriate point (a draft, getting 'stuck' etc.), while I pick up another. The first tends to drop to the back of my mind and I can come back to it with a fresher feeling and some different perspectives. Until recently it wasn't a conscious decision and more a product of waiting for review comments etc. to come back. But I think I work better this way that trying to have multiple strands going at the same time.
So, as the NRT book stuff goes into a drawer, there are a couple of other things going on...
First up, I've got a quick trip to Cergy-Pointoise for the rest of this week for a project meeting with Damien Masson and others. This is the first meeting for a project we're starting a project on 'Living in the City with Terror' that extends the work I did with Damien on Atmospheres and Security. It's going to be interesting to see how that develops...
Second, when I get back, next week I'm going to move back to a longer running book project, provisionally titled 'Encountering the Subject'. This is really different to the NRT one in a number of senses. While I started the NRT one relatively from scratch, this book aims to draw together and develop some strands of my work that have gone on for some time now. The book will basically be about subjectivity (or rather, intersubjectivity) after a range of post-phenomenological ideas. My paper in Emotion, Space and Society will form the basis for one chapter and mirror the approach I'm hoping to take throughout - of staging a conversation between conceptual material and some kind of encounter that sets the scene for it / asks questions back. Also, my very recent paper in Geography Compass will provide a range of review-based material for the introduction.
Before starting the NRT book I'd been working for some time with Roberto Esposito's writing on community-immunity, including a presentation years ago at the IBG and another in Bristol a little more recently. That's work has built up to a very bloated draft (somewhere in the region of 17,000 words) that I want to spend the next few weeks whittling down / getting into better shape as a proper draft (more like 12,000). After that, will be further work on the introduction (building on the Compass paper) and what will be the first chapter that comes before the Nancy and Esposito material. I haven't gone looking for a contract yet but I wanted to get at least two or three chapters in so I could article the point / argument more clearly in that and provide sample material.
I'm aiming to post more about that project separately / once I've got back into it and update and things go along.
Oh, and I'm off to Perth in Australia for much of November where I'll have a desk at the University of Western Australia and, mostly, be staying with my brother who lives there. So some of the subjectivity work will be done on the move which should be interesting in terms of fairly banal logistical questions / managing access to resources etc. I'm not sure how many books I can take that aren't about Peppa pig so I'm going to have to think quite strategically about what work I plan for that trip...