In the long term

The gingko grove outside the Queen’s Building at Royal Holloway, University of London.

An ever-present challenge in a long-term project like writing a book is how best to sustain momentum when other priorities demand your time and attention. Although I approached the new academic year this September in the hopeful expectation that I might be able to set aside some regular time for writing the book, this failed to materialise (quelle surprise). As is often the case, the academic term brought unexpected challenges that—on top of the task of writing a significant number of new lectures—meant that the book has been in a state of hibernation, and will likely remain so until the new year.

Frustrating and a little anxiety-inducing as this lack of progress is, I did manage to carve out space this term to apply for a research fellowship that, if awarded, would give me the opportunity to bring the book to its conclusion. At the same time, I feel more optimistic that I will be able to dedicate regular days to book writing from January, largely because I am teaching existing material and won’t be on the energy-sapping treadmill of producing new lectures each week. I do hope this won’t be a case of famous last words!

2024 will also see a new editor taking over responsibility for my book at McGill-Queen’s University Press. My current editor, Richard Baggaley (who has been a supportive and enthusiastic advocate for the book since we first discussed it in 2019) will be moving on to a freelance role. Although changes of acquisitions editor for an academic book are par for the course, especially when the writing of one extends over many years(!), I am aware that I will need to re-pitch the book to whomever inherits Richard’s portfolio. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course; being prompted to reconsider the case for one’s book can only be to its ultimate benefit.

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