Opportunity knocks when you least expect it

I am sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced something like this: you express an intention out loud to the universe, and soon or almost immediately afterwards an opportunity related to that intention presents itself. Now, I don’t think there’s any woo-woo or fate or Higher Power reason for this—rather, I think when you express an intention, you consciously or subconsciously start paying more attention to things that might be related to that intention, and are more likely to notice when they come along.

Yesterday, between the mounds of grading and tsunami of end-of-the-academic-year tasks (our last day of classes is today), I carved some time out of my schedule to sit down and plan out my summer. I started by brainstorming all the things I wanted to do and thought that I “have” to do. I then took a step back and looked at the general trends and themes, and curated the list based on the emerging themes and the time I have available this summer.

One theme that emerged is one that I discussed with a good friend a couple of weeks ago: publications. I’m in a big publication slump right now. Typically I publish at least 1 article (usually conference, sometimes journal) a year, with the zero pub years usually followed by a multi-pub year. Last year was a zero pub year. This year? Nothing in the pipeline and nothing actively in the works, yet. Now, some of this is to be expected—becoming department chair has sucked up a lot of my research time, as I’ve tried to get up to speed. Plus I’m starting a new line of research and there are always start-up costs with that as I get up to speed (and hit lots of dead ends, and generally flounder around). But still, the thought of a multi-year pub drought, particularly a couple years out from going up for a promotion to full professor, is causing me a slight bit o’ panic.

So, on my summer to-do list: get a draft of something together to send out for review in the fall.

Today, I opened my email to find a call for papers for a small conference I’ve attended in the past. This year they are having a Work In Progress track. Perfect! This is just the opportunity that I need right now! And it’s just 2 pages! The catch, of course, is that the deadline is very, very soon (as in, I have about 10 days to throw something together). But, I do have some snippets of things written here and there that I can use as a starting point, and if I’m really efficient and ruthless with my time management (particularly with end-of-term grading), I can totally do this. Wow.

I have no idea if the end result will be worthy of publication or presentation. But at the very least, it will kick-start my writing. I suspect that even if this one doesn’t pan out, the act of putting something together for this workshop will inspire me to get one or two more things in the pipeline this year—and you can’t get pubs if you don’t get your stuff out there. I’m appreciative of the timing of this opportunity, and look forward to taking advantage of it to get my research and writing back on track.


2 thoughts on “Opportunity knocks when you least expect it

  1. wait, they made you dept chair *before* promotion to full prof? around here anywhere near that level of service is postponed till afterwards, because of course it’s going to suck up too much time from research.


  2. Julie, yes, at my institution dept chair is a 3-year rotating position based on seniority. So, if you’re in a small department (like mine!), chances are good that your turn will come up before you go up for full. In my case, and in the case of the previous chair (if memory serves), I became chair 3 years after tenure, because we have a dearth of senior profs. They do, however, insist that you are tenured before you can be dept chair, for obvious reasons. 🙂


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