I had an interesting conversation with a philosopher friend who, in the last few years, has been concentrating his teaching in one semester and spending the other in the USA. He has married an American woman and since re-location is not an option for either, given the stage their careers are at, he has made a pact with his Department, we’ll see for how long. He’s not the only one in this delicate personal situation that I know of, though this is not really my point. The point is, rather, that, as he tells me, his scientific production has increased enormously in quality and quantity because of this sentimental accident. Why? Obvious: he can concentrate and think for long periods of time away from his teaching duties and the usual admin hassle. As he told me, one cannot think properly when only using two days a week or even two days a month to do so.

Recently, a colleague in the Department has managed to produce a 250-page monograph with a British publishing house. I say ‘has managed to produce’ not because I doubted he could do it (not at all!!) but because, past the doctoral dissertation, it’s almost impossible to find the time and concentration to write books, which should be our prioritary task. When I asked him how he’d done it, the answer was by staying away from UAB (in this case, he chose to teach at a foreign university; also he enjoys a teaching reduction regularly for the bulk of his research so far). I myself wrote a couple of books before starting the round of admin appointments once tenured and spent a sabbatical researching for another book that has been waiting to be written for years now. In the meantime, I’ve managed to write just articles, book chapters and mini-books below 100 pages.

You might say that the articles, etc. do amount to a good-seized book and that, anyway, this blog, now above 110,000 words is quite a thick volume. So, why not write the abandoned book? Well, the answer is that I’m old-fashioned, as a former student now teaching in Britain told me. There, our peers, who don’t squander precious time on admin tasks and teach less (and make twice as much money), often plan books as a series of articles over, say, three of four years. When they’re done, they gather them together and, voilà!, here’s a monograph. I, being old-fashioned, dislike very much that kind of book which, unless it is very well planned, tends to be too miscellaneous. To be honest, I often feel cheated by titles that promise solid discussion and that boil down to a collection of minor ‘this and that’ on the topic. So far, nonetheless, I haven’t learned to publish this way. You could also say I have grown lazy or increasingly incapable of writing fast. Maybe it’s writer’s block.

So, I’m stuck not for lack of time but for lack of time to focus for a long time. Sorry, this is awkward. A colleague who kindly reads this blog (and is hyperactive, and has also written a substantial 200 plus page monograph!!) asks me how I find time to write here, when the answer is very simple: each post requires just a burst of thinking, between 30 and 60 minutes. This is not so difficult to find once or twice a week for our weeks, precisely, are fragmented into a myriad small tasks. This is the factor that makes using a whole day for a single matter almost impossible. I do manage to find now and them a Thursday-Friday window of opportunity from which most of my essays in the last 5 years have emerged (I wrote all of my little book Desafíos a la Heterosexualidad Obligatoria in 5 days in June, between the end of classes and the beginning of exams). And the academic year, remember, ends for everyone on 15th July (and for me as Coordinator on 31st). And, well, we need a holiday like everyone else (which, I know, we spend reading).

Fay Weldon used to say that the short story was the perfect genre for women, particularly for housewives, as their daily routine never allowed them for the long periods of concentration needed to write longer texts. So, here it is: it’s the blog for me. It’s either that or leaving home one semester a year, with all that implies in terms of personal cost to my private life, without mentioning the perfect nightmare of having to teach four subjects in one semester.

I’ll leave it here, I need to mark some exercises delivered out of deadline…