I’ve been away from the blog for a while. There are countless reasons for that. Many of the items that might have served as quick commentary posts have appeared instead on Facebook or, less frequently, Twitter. I’ve been frantically trying to finish a draft of my new book manscript by the end of the semester (I mailed it off on Saturday, standing in line at the post office for an hour). Teaching has produced the usual demands of grading and prepping and advising, among the usual activities that come with being a professor, but teaching has generally been pretty exciting this semester. I’ve also been doing some other writing that I can discuss in further detail in the next few days, hopefully.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time helping my stepson and my exchange-student daughter navigate the college sports recruiting process. I won’t go into specifics, but it’s a far more complicated process than most people realize, especially for sports that don’t generate a lot of revenue. In fact, getting recruited to many of these sports may actually be a reflection of qualities that have less to do with performance on the field or court (although obviously those skills matter a great deal). Getting recruited is certainly tied to networks, but you also have to have quite a bit of tenacity and skill at self-promotion and quite a bit of savvy about how the process works. This isn’t a complaint as much as it is an observation.

But as the year comes to an end (and especially with a draft of a book manuscript reaching completion), I’ve been finding myself reflecting on the future direction not only of this blog but also of my direction as a scholar and/or writer. To some extent, I’ve been trying to think how I can use the tools available to me–blogs, social media, academic conferences, etc–in order to continue doing work that is rewarding to write (and hopefully to read).

For that reason, I’ve been mulling Steven Berlin Johnson’s recent blog post, in which he discusses “the anatomy of an idea.”  Some of his conclusions aren’t that unexpected. Research (or “the discovery process,” to use Johnson’s phrase) is social. To a great extent, this has always been true. Writers and editors read and share drafts. Colleagues discuss ideas at cocktail parties. But I think that Johnson is probably right to emphasize the importance of the diverse forms of social activity that can foster inquiry. I certainly benefitted from a wide range of suggestions and advice when writing my first book, and while I have been less public about the process for my current book, I continue to learn from my fellow bloggers. As a result, I’m hoping to make a greater effort in the coming months to re-immerse myself in the network, not necessarily in the closed playground of Facebook (although I must continue to satisfy my Scrabble addition) but on Twitter, which tends to foster open-ended, public conversations much more effectively, and in the blogosphere.

I don’t want to commit to specific goals or to writing specific kinds of posts, though I miss writing both the essayistic posts where I took the time to develop ideas in detail and the movie review posts where I sought to  bring some of my own idiosyncratic concerns to reading contemporary films. Time demands have made writing film reviews a bit more difficult, but I’ve genuinely missed the opportunity to use this space to reflect about some of the ideas that matter to me.

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