Why NaBloPoMo is hard for me

I’m still a bit under the weather, and really don’t feel like writing in the first place. But the real impediment is feeling that at this particular moment I don’t have much to say.   That turns out to be a bit of a theme.

I enjoy writing, for the most part. It’s an art and a craft, and creating a well-written piece often sharpens my thinking on a particular topic. Even the editing process – the substation of simpler phrases for the unnecessarily complex – brings a small bit of pleasure as I buff out the rough spots in my prose.

But (of course there’s a “but”)… if I’m going to post something on a public forum and get my friends’ attention – if even for a second or two – I want to have something worth reading on the other side of the click. It doesn’t have to be deep or profound, but I want to feel that somebody reading my posting has gained something for that two minutes of their life irretrievably lost.

When I was first applying to graduate programs, I had mentioned in my application essay that I enjoyed writing for a purpose, not just to fill a quota of publications in the quest for tenure. A friend and then current graduate student urged me to strike that out of my essay – most of the faculty members where I’d be applying had completely bought into the quantity over quality of publications measure, in spite of claims to the contrary. One scholar I know talks in terms of LPU’s – “least publishable units” – the smallest degree of “findings” one can extract from a research study to justify a publication, so that a single study can spawn multiple, small and focused publications, rather than a single, large and coherent treatment of the research. The belief is that factoring a study into LPUs and publishing multiple small articles would result in higher “productivity scores” at tenure and promotion time. I hope he’s wrong.

So, in spite of my misgivings, maybe what I’ve written so far has been worth the minute or so you’ve spent reading. Academic friends – how does your department or instruction handle the quantity vs quality judgment for tenure and promotion?

Oh, here’s another photo of a cat.

Manele BayBay, our Hawaiian adoptee

Manele BayBay, our Hawaiian adoptee

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