Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Extravagant Oodles of Free Time

Now that school is out for the summer, with almost a month to go before I head back to the life I left behind in Colorado, I have huge expanses of time to do whatever I want to do.  No classes to teach, no papers to grade, no meetings to attend, no school visits, nothing but free time, long-awaited extravagant oodles of free time, all day long, seven days a week.

Alas, I am finding that I don't do well with extravagant oodles of free time.

I've noticed this before. My teaching schedule has always allowed me to alternate busy days at the university crammed full of teaching with quiet days at home crammed full of writing - except, as it turned out,  NOT crammed full of writing because, as the name of this blog indicates, my writing process involves writing for only an hour a day.  So the days at home would have an hour of writing, and then some little piddly Loathsome Tasks that were satisfying to cross off my to-do list, and then what? Extravagant oodles of free time, which too often turned into extravagant oodles of self-Googling, incessant email checking, and other pursuits toxic to one's soul.

So how should I structure my remaining time in Indiana to avoid these time-squandering pitfalls? For Henry David Thoreau reminds us that we cannot kill time without injuring eternity.

Right now my plan is to write for an hour a day, type up my handwritten pages for another hour, and edit chapters for my collection on ethics and children's literature for a third hour.  But at that point it's not yet noon and the whole rest of the day stretches ahead.  Walking is good, if it's not too hot, which it very well might be in Indiana in May and June. Spending time with friends is fabulous, except that many of my DePauw colleagues have already flown the coop to take up summer residence elsewhere.  Reading, definitely, but what to read? I like reading so much better if I don't read at random but have a reading project.  One summer I read Thomas Hardy - that was the best summer ever.  The summer before last I read Very Long Novels and fell in love with one I had long resisted, Middlemarch.

The reading project I've just chosen for this summer is to read as many books I can of fellow authors on the Smack Dab in the Middle blog of middle-grade authors on which I post once a month. There are 24 authors on the blog (according to my count), so reading a book by each one of them should fill up the time until I leave for Colorado quite nicely. Thrilled by this plan, I trotted off to the Putnam County Public Library two days ago and came home with a pleasing stack. So far I've read The Marble Queen by Stephanie Blake, and now I'm halfway through Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor, which I'll finish tonight.  Next up: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

No injuring of eternity for me!


  1. This reminds me of Charles Darwin who said “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Alas, I am guilty of wasting many of them...

  2. Wonderful line from Charles D.! And yes, I've wasted many an hour and eternity has been mightily injured.