Why am I posing this rhetorical question then? Well, the organizer of the conference panel from which I have just gracefully excused myself (see Monday's post) is putting together an edited collection on the same subject as the panel. Ze'd asked me to contribute to this, too, months ago, but I had forgotten. When I told hir I wasn't coming to the conference, ze asked if I still wanted to contribute. Cool, I said. Sure! Why not? How firm is the publisher's commitment and when do you need the paper?
I was expecting ze would say April ... May, maybe. Even June, to give people a chance to finish up their semesters and flesh out the conference versions of their papers.
Nope. Ze doesn't need it until December! Holy crap. It would likely be several months for the review process to happen after that and another six months to a year before the book came out. And that is if the publisher remains interested. My last experience with an edited collection dragged out for two and a half years and was eventually dropped by the publisher (but that's another story and hopefully not to be repeated).
Jeezusfucke!! Oh, the tyranny of procrastination! Do you know how much crap gets pumped out here at Think Tank, just in this office of Think Tank, in any given WEEK? I mean, it's not academic writing. A fair amount of it is recycled and revised versions of earlier material. It's not complex the way academic writing is or as heavily sourced, but some of it is actually researched. And, while people here don't teach, they do have other responsibilities besides writing. Like going to meetings and planning events and raising money. And yet shit gets done. Maybe it's the money. If people don't research and write here, whatever you may think of the content or quality, they don't get paid. Donors want to see evidence you're doing something with their money, so you produce articles and op-eds and reports. And then you write proposals for more funding. In academe, the same correlation between what you produce and when and what you get paid does not exist. So, people take their time. Hell, if you're on the tenure track, you have 5-7 years to turn your dissertation into a book. And that's just to get it accepted by a publisher -- add a few more months to a year before you can send Grandma a copy.
Academe's glacial publication pace does not give me hope for systemic reform. Not in my lifetime.
I will do the paper, though. There are no travel costs, and if the edited collection falls through, there are a few journals I could send it to. It would get picked up by one of them. Not that doing this does anything for me career-wise, academic or otherwise. It's just an idea I want to follow through with for a bit, take for a ride and see where it goes.