Sunday, January 25, 2015


Perhaps what a sabbatical is is a chance to see where you went wrong. I am mostly working 8 hours a day on stuff that I've volunteered to do. I'm not sure what I'd do if I was working my regular job right now. I have poetry manuscripts and essay collections and essays and novellas to read. I have contests to judge. I have money to raise. I'm calling potential sponsors. I'm emailing editors to buy tables for a bookfair. I'm making charts and spreadsheets. I'm reviewing proposals and panels and books. I'm responding to emails. I'm reminding Max to send thank you letters and Thin Air to send thank you letters. I'm writing letters of rec. I'm editing blogs and blogs and another blog (which reminded me I'm behind on another blog post). I am driving kids to more activities than I ever thought I would allow. I'm trying to make extra money to fix the things that broke. I'm also three layers of sick, which is maybe one drawback to the sabbatical. The body thinks it can lower its defenses.

The problem with administrative work is that it seeps into the rest of your brain. I'm afraid whatever I write will sound like "Dear potential sponsor....the opportunity to support your fellow writers.....appreciate your consideration."

I'm thinking the real sabbatical will start in February. Which is good because my manuscript is due at the end of it. But, if I look at my list of stuff to do, I really think March might be the real beginning which is kind of sad because then it will be spring break and mostly over.

These are the things I want to do:
Tour recycling facility.
Tour toilet paper making factory.
Apprentice under Proper's butcher.
Make sourdough starter.
Buy a gigantic chalk board.
Tour water-treatment plant.
Volunteer at literacy center.
Write script for Micro film.
Rewrite Salmon. Change title.
Finish Micro. I thought it was done but it's not.

To have a really writerly sabbatical, I think you have to leave town for the whole time. But the kids are in school and Erik has a job and I don't want to leave them for a whole 4 months and although I worry about administrative brain creep or brain seep, if I spent all my time writing. Well, that's a lot of time alone in my head without spreadsheets.

So I'm going to fund raise like crazy this week and get the registration form for the NonfictioNOW website underway. I'm going to read these manuscripts and essays and then I'm going out of town for a couple of days to give a reading. When I get back, I'm going into a sensory deprivation tank. Or on a tour of the recycling facility. Or maybe try to start my taxes because sabbaticals might just be the time when you get all the things done without having a nervous breakdown trying to do them while working your regular job.


Lisa B. said...

It's so hard to have a sabbatical when you have responsibilities! You need a clone of yourself to do all the things that Administrative Nik does, while Sabbatical Nik just writes and tours facilities and MAYBE makes sourdough starter, because keeping up with your sourdough starter is a little bit like a part-time job. My wish for you is that you can cram as much of the gotta-get-it-done stuff into the next week, then leave and say, I will do it after my sabbatical. Even though I know you might not be able to. I am wishing this wish for you real hard.

Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Nik, if you want to take a week or two to sabbatical in Chicago, I have a guest room with its own bathroom and doors that close and lock and even a study you can use while you're here (I mostly write in the living room anyway). Seriously. Kevin has math colleagues come and stay with us for a week or two at a time sometimes. We will mostly ignore you, but we might feed you a meal or two. Feb 16 - Mar 3 is open, also all of April, I think.