Remember the application I filed last summer for a Fall 2013 sabbatical? The news came yesterday that I got it!
What does that mean?
It means I have next fall semester off, with pay, in order to finish revising my academic book manuscript for the publisher. In other words? I have seven full months to myself, starting in June and running through December, for the express purpose of focusing exclusively on writing, revising, editing, and finishing my book.
Of course, I'm still going to be a nervous wreck about making that deadline as the clock ticks down because I'm a slow writer. (Slow but good, I remind myself.) It's a good thing I got the sabbatical: If I hadn't, I'm pretty sure I would have had to renegotiate my due date with the publishing house. And given that it's my first book, that would have looked bad.
But so far, so good: a year ago (January) I received the course release from the College that houses my department .... in order to write a book proposal (February) and go to a professional conference where I pitched my proposal (March) ... to get the publishing contract (August) ... to include with my application for a sabbatical (September) ... to revise my manuscript (February-December this year).
This is a very typical kind of progression for any academic, but there are no guarantees along the way: I could have been denied a course release, or not finished the proposal, or not gotten a contract, or not been granted a sabbatical.
Um, now all I have to do is the actual project itself. Gulp.
Within six weeks of returning from a sabbatical, one has to file a report with the university about what it led to or resulted in. That, plus the signed contract, pretty much guarantees that I will be sufficiently motivated to follow through. My not-so-secret fear is that I will somehow go down in flames and not have a book at the end of all of this, despite contracts and sabbaticals.
Like a lot of women in particular, I suffer from imposter syndrome, in which I always think I won't be able to live up to X or Y and that I will be revealed as a fraud at whatever it is I attempt. I engage in less of that kind of thinking than I used to when I was younger, but when I take on a major new project, this fear always comes roaring back for a while.