Sometimes the Bible has very good advice. Here is the piece of very good Biblical advice I'm thinking about today: "Ask, and it shall be given you." Now, in my own personal experience, this isn't strictly true. I have asked God, and the universe, and my friends, family, employers, editors, and cat, for many things that I have not received. That is a plain fact. But I have also asked for many things that I have received, things that I would not have received had I not asked.
Right now my project is to make my life as happy and wonderful as it can be by the time I have a milestone birthday in a little less than two years. I've settled on some things that I want to have happen in order to achieve this goal. And I've decided to ask around to see if I can get them.
The main thing I want right now is to teach an occasional course in children's literature when I return to CU. I love teaching my children's literature course at DePauw more than I have ever loved doing anything. So why not see if I can continue to do this beloved activity when I return? This would be not only good for me, but good for the university, as it is always good for the university when professors can share their deepest intellectual and creative passions with their students.
So I started asking. I asked the College of Education at CU if I could teach children's literature there; within minutes I got back a prompt, pleasant, firm no. Okay. I asked the English Department at CU if I could teach children's literature there; I got back an expression of qualified interest that also made me realize there would be considerable bureaucratic hurdles to leap over (what happens when a professor in the Philosophy Department wants to teach a course in the English Department? which department pays for that professor's time? which department gets credit for generating those student credit hours?). My brain abuzz, I kept on asking. I remembered that at a party once I had met a lovely woman who is in charge of a small honors program on campus who had approached me about my teaching a course for that program some time in the future. I emailed her. I called two deans about the English Department possibility, and this week I've already met with one chair and am about to meet with another.
You know, I really think this might happen! In 2013-14 I might be teaching both a children's literature course in the CU English department and a small one-credit course called Fairy Tale Transformations for the Norlin Scholars program. All because I asked.
If you want something, ask! Focus on how what you are asking for can benefit all parties concerned. Ask nicely. Be enthusiastic but not pushy. Be open-minded and flexible about different ways to work things out. Have a Plan B if needed, as well as a Plan C, D, E, F, and G. But do go ahead and ask. The worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no, and that no may lead you someone else who will say yes. Ask!