This year has been a wash for my research. I’m not here to complain. It just has. I’ve been teaching new courses online, I’ve been advising grad students online, I’ve participated in conference panels online, I’ve been giving public lectures on Missouri literature and history online, I’ve been watching in horror as my computer slow-motion crashes during a public lecture online (do not recommend), I’ve been editing my book series (online), I’ve been reading submissions for journal editors (also online, everything’s online). I’ve been working. I just haven’t been writing my book. There are piles of notes and piles of books to be read and interviews and research to be done when we’re allowed to go back on the road, but for now I am halfway-up-the-rims-in-mud stuck on the writing.
I mention this neither for sympathy (thanks but there’s a few more serious things going on in the world that need your attention) nor for advice (please god no) but because while there are reasons for me to be stuck–semi-good reasons (hard to write a book on the history of university presses while higher ed implodes or more accurately is starved and dismantled and while it sometimes seems to me not so crucial for all of the current scholarship to see life between boards, I know, who put me in charge) and quite not-good reasons (I’ve always been like this)–there is a good reason for me to write this book. I was reminded of that this spring break morning by a post, “How to (Build Solidarity with University Presses So They Exist to) Publish Your Book: A Roundtable,” published today on the H-Net Book Channel’s Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.
The post puts in print (thanks to MSU Press’s Catherine Cocks) the opening remarks of a roundtable I put together with SUNY Press’s Rebecca Colesworthy for MLA this past January, and it displays the dedication of the members of the roundtable to finding ways to continue to publish scholarly work in this increasingly difficult climate. One point that was made–that university presses need other people on campus to forge alliances with to ensure that they are properly appreciated and funded–reminded me of one big, good reason for me to write this book: to tell the story of university presses in order to show people who don’t work at university presses the importance of university presses not only to professors’ careers but to the entire enterprise of scholarship and to the societies that reap the benefits of that scholarship. So this is a thank you to the editors and publishers and forum-keepers for the kick in the pants.