Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Students We Nudge

I had an especially hard quarter teaching. The truth is, I was not at my best, and am feeling like I am just now starting find my way back to loving teaching again. I have been doing this half my adult life now (eeks!), and so a bit of a lull might have been inevitable. I am also just coming through some challenging personal circumstances (divorce); I can have a bit of empathy for myself. My writing has been going well; I love my coaching clients. Both give me increased energy toward teaching; I think I am going to have a great term next quarter!

That said, I also had a hard time due to a particularly challenging group of students (not all, but a few!) As I teach social work practice, sometimes I have to "go there" and push students in ways that make them uncomfortable. I have an ethical responsibility to point out to students behaviors and skills that may be an issue for them in practice. My student are going to work with some of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations; I owe it to them to be real! Sure, I could smile and be funny and witty and focus on charismatic lectures and making them happy. What would be of little service to anyone.

I also need to remember that it is sometimes the students who are most unhappy with me who have contacted me, weeks, months or even years later and have thanked me for the push. I remember one student who said it was during one session with a challenging client when my challenging him for some less than culturally competent behavior finally hit home. He sent me a box of chocolates and a nice note as a thank you (and yes, I was a bit afraid of trying the chocolate :)).

Something all us teachers/professors must remember.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Blogging about Books in the New Year

In the new year, I am going to be doing some more blogging about books! First, for a couple of weeks, I am going to be writing about "books that make my soul sing." I will share some novels, scholarly works, and poetry books that have made a significant impact on my life.

A couple of weeks after that, I am going to explore how authors who have self published books of nonfiction can move toward writing and  publishing their next books with more traditional publishers, including academic and university presses. This transition can mark an important turn in one's career and life.

Stay tuned. Now, back to writing here at Bluebeard coffee here in the Gritty City!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Writing on Saturday

Its a happy day. I spent a few hours in a cafe, writing. Now, in my chair, writing. Soon, will have ice cream for dinner.  I will return to more writing. Narrative nonfiction, an autoethnography, and the work on a new book proposal. Then, I will work out for an hour and a half; weights and the bike in a HIIT routine. Yeah, at fifty, still pushing it. Silly man.

Writing. Dogs. Ice cream. Exercise.

I recommend the same. A good way to end the year.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays to All

As today is an important holiday for many of my readers, I will take a break from dispensing writing and publishing advice today.

May your holidays be full of warmth, joy and love. My the light of the universe fill all of your hearts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Autoethnography

I just published a new article, Autoethnographic Explorations of Researching Older Expatriate Men: Magnifying Emotion Using the Research Pantoum in the journal, Creative Approaches to Research.

For those of you interested in autoethnography, arts based research, poetic inquiry, or other expressive qualitative methods, check it out. For those of you are not so moved by much methods, check it out anyhow!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Processing Circuit Training Week

When I teach group work to social work students, and in my book on group practice, a key lesson is that many people get as much from processing exercises as they do engaging in them. Therefore, I designed a few question for you to consider now that you have completed your training.

1) Which routine worked best for you?
2) What about that structure helped you?
3) Which routines seemed to help you break through your psychosocial barriers to productivity?
4) What psychosocial barriers were still present and were making it hard to engage in this work?
5) Did you notice any internal "chatter" that got in your way?
6) That were the big take aways for you here?
7) What do you still need to work on to help you push your writing and publishing forward?
8) Develop a plan to get you to the next level. Make sure to seek help and resources. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Start of A New Blog: Hope

There are things that inspire in me a sense of rebirth and hope. The start of a new academic term. Petting a puppy. A new coaching client. A new workout principle that I put into place. A new bottle of scotch or bourbon. Hope, as I wrote in post a while ago, is essential for scholars, writers and leaders (and indeed, for all people).

And, a new blog by an academic just finishing her post-PhD journey. Here is one by a colleague that is just 120 miles or so south of me in Portland Oregon, Dr. Bryana Campbell, a new PhD and an adjunct professor in art history. Check it out. She only has a few posts to date, but it be a nice to pay witness to her inner workings as she moves forward.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Consider circuit training for scholars

Hopefully, you were able to engage in each of the five circuit training routines last week. If you did not, try a couple over the next couple of days.

If you did, think about what you learned from the experience. In a couple of days, I will help you process what you learned a bit more formally.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #5

1) Write in least developed section of article (20 minutes)
2) Write in most developed section of article (20 minutes)
3) Skim articles to help you develop least developed section (20 minutes)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #4

1) Write for a half hour
2) Read for a half hour

Repeat at least once today (ok, I liked, this will take more than an hour)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #3

1) Read your free write from the last session (5 minutes)
2) Develop ideas from the free write directly in your article (15 minutes)
3) Work on article conclusion (10 minutes)
4) Put in references (10 minutes).
5) Edit article (20 minutes)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #2

For one hour.

1) Free write about your article, by hand. Don't think, just write. (5 minutes)
2) Pick the section you wish to work in, write (25 minutes).
3) Read what you wrote. Develop new sentences based on your analysis (analytical writing, 10 minutes).
4) Skim articles to support your work (15 minutes)
5) Free write about what you want to work on during your next session (by or computer, 5 minutes).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day One of Circuit Training for Scholars

Over the next five days, I am going to encourage you to try these writing circuit training routines. As an introduction to how to approach this work, go to this post that I wrote during the summer.  You will need to set aside an hour per day, or more than one hour block if you wish to repeat each circuit more than once.

By following different routines each day, you will begin to get a sense of how to approach the various tasks you must engage in to complete an article, and gain some ideas on how to structure your work sessions.

You may also find that by following these preset plans that you move from worrying about how to work to just getting to your work. Sometimes our brains are our friends, other times, not so much.

So, here it is. For one hour, engage in these tasks as defined.

Note, did you see that the last task was to edit? You do understand, I hope, that editing while you are writing is nothing less than evil. Evil I say.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Circuit Training for Scholars Next Week!

Staring Monday, I am going to guide you through five days of circuit training exercises.  No, you can keep your kettlebells and battle ropes locked in the closet; this is going to be about writing!

The idea is to help you balance tasks that you need to accomplish in service of pushing an article forward. I came up with this "program" based on some positive feedback to a post I wrote, circuit training for scholars, a couple of years ago, and the week of exercises I led you through a couple of months ago.

I have two goals in mind here: 1) to help jump start your writing; 2) to help you consider various patterns of work related to scholarly writing. While you may find that one "training" order works best for you next week, don't overly rely on the method that was most successful. Just as with physical exercise, varying the intensity, duration, and actual routine of our work can lead to some impressive results.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Nice Resource on Writing and Research, Dr. Kay Guccione

I am constantly reviewing resources on academic writing and publishing. Some are good, some great, and some provide dubious information.

I recently found a really good website by Kay Guccione, of the University of Sheffield. She provides research mentoring and coaching to the scholarly community there. From reading her website, I would say they are most lucky to have her.

And now you have a bit of "her."

Check it out! Dr. Kay Guccione's Researcher Portal.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Somewhat miraculous"

It is Monday morning, and last night marked the first night of Hanukkah. It is my first one alone in a very, very long time. I am divorced, and my daughters are not here. Still, I can be grateful for a good deal, and for that which that feels somewhat miraculous.

"Somewhat miraculous" is about as close as I get to the notion of miracle. I am not a person who comes by faith easily. While this is not the place for theology (and in truth, its not a favorite topic of mine with those I don't know and love very deeply) I do have something in mind that pertains to writing.

When I think of the notion of "somewhat miraculous," I think of that which I am gifted. That is, something that seems to have appeared from some collective intelligence beyond my own. Call it the creative energy of the universe, the collective unconscious of humanity, ascribe some religious name to it, whatever you wish.

Writers call it the muse. Sitting down and not having any idea what we are going to write, and having writing transpire anyhow, is somewhat miraculous to me. I know that I have my part in it, and that part is sitting down, being fully present in the moment, and being courageous enough to sit in silence and accept it.

My butt in the chair. My fingers on the keys. I am granted words. From whoever or whatever or wherever I do not care.

Fifty years old, newly alone. Trying to make meaning of my new identity, new notions of family. Still, writing, the muse, always here, always.

Today, I am still, I wait for it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

May the light of the university warm your hearts this Hanukkah. For those in need of extra light, whose hearts are hurting, I offer you my sincere hope for healing.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Go Where Your Energy Is

It is a simple principle, and one that is important to follow. You will be far more productive if you go with your energy, and write what you wish to write. This could apply to re-prioritizing your article order, or what section you focus on.  Not much more to say about it for now, but do consider what this means for you.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Considering Article Reviews

Les Back, a British professor of sociology, writes some wonderfully insightful blog posts about academic life. In one post titled, The Devil You Know, he calls into question the nature of the blind review process.

I have been ambivalent about the practice of blind peer review for a long time. The arguments for it are compelling. By engaging in a blind review, reviewers are safe from retribution, and can give a fair and unbiased review.

Yet, we seldom consider its issues, and the implications of these issues for how we approach our work.

We send our articles to journals, whose editors are supposed to seek out the most qualified experts to read our work. However, this often does not happen. Editors are us, faculty, who rarely get release time for their editorial service. They are super busy, and often don't have time to look for reviewers who are perfect matches for our work. I do not blame them, but this is just the truth.

There are perhaps a dozen reasons why the review process may lead to highly idiosyncratic, sometimes capricious, and often unfair reviews. It is really important that scholars understand the quality of reviews. Too often, young scholars are subtly, and sometimes not so subtly taught that reviews are sacred documents that they must accept as being perfect. This can lead to two unhelpful responses: 1) self downing and not sending the article out for a long time (if ever); 2) authors reacting so defensively as a means of ego self-preservation that they do not pay attention to helpful feedback.

It is important to approach the review process in a non-defensive yet critical manner; reviews are sometimes helpful, but not always If you receive a revise and resubmit, your job is to try, the best you can, to non-judgmentally and non-defensively make all changes you can that do not compromise the integrity of your work. If your article was rejected, your task is to use whatever feedback you can to improve your article in your best, non-defensive judgment.

Your subsequent goal should be to resubmit your rejected article within a couple of weeks (or, it will probably not get resubmitting for a long, long time). You are no longer bound by the reviews of the past reviewers; they rejected you, and you are moving on. Take what you like and leave the rest, as new reviewers are most likely going to focus on an entirely different sets of "problems", most of which you (or anyone besides said reviewer) are not going to be able to predict.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why You Need to Stay in Academia

So many people want you to leave the academe; many of them want your money to help you do so. They play on your fears. Do you really want to leave?

Why should you stay?

Because it is true that only a very small percentage of people publish the majority of scholarship. And based upon your training and skill set, why can't you join that club? Why, because the myth/prevailing belief is that only very special people with special skills can do so. That is just such horse pucky. I have watched many people over the years learn to write and publish articles easily, and far more than they would have dreamed of.  You can too.

There are no tenure track jobs out there, they say. Really? With an ever increasing number of people freaked out and scared about competing for positions, many of whom have fallen victim to the voices of for-profit naysayers who make great money on playing on your fears, there actually are jobs out there. Yes, some fields are very, very competitive. But again, have you done everything you can do to compete? Have you published enough? Have you done all the internal work and skill building that you need to do to compete? Have you given yourself a fair shot?

But, here is the most important reason.

Because if you don't, you may feel like you bailed on your dreams, and may regret it for the rest of your life.

That is why.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World.

The website for one of my two new books on the criminalization of immigration is now live! The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World (Columbia University Press), will be out in March. We are really excited about this book. It turns social policy on its head, and begins with the lived experiences and voices of the most vulnerable, marginalized, or "othered" immigrants around the world.  It privileges narratives, stories and evocative qualitative methods to really paint a picture of the lives of undocumented immigrants around the world.

Here is what one of our reviewers said about it. 

"The Immigrant Other paints a moving picture of the lived experience of immigrants in the contemporary age. Engaging essays cover a broad range of migrants groups, institutional locations and nations. Through memborable narratives of individual struggle and collective resistance, the book provides valuable insight into the pain and struggles, but also the heroism of immigrants in the face of nation states that criminalize their lives." — Robin Jacobson, University of Puget Sound, author, The New Nativism

Please check it out, and suggest it to your libraries, colleagues who teach such courses, advocates, or others interested in the rights of heroes trying to care for their families in an increasingly global, transnational, and complex post-modernity.