It should not be a secret at this point that I do a fair bit of work that emerges from earlier work I’ve done or that calls back to it. The Robin Hobb Reread on which I’m working now is perhaps the most put-together example, but it’s not the only one, even in this webspace; the abortive Pronghorn Project and Points of Departure are others, as are the several responses to Erin Bartram I’ve made here, as well as the many sample assignments I’ve posted. This is not to say that I always think of things as being series when I start them, but even when I do not set out to put together some kind of continuous narrative or set of essays, I do often look back at what I have already done to find something else to do.
That I am often able to do so, though, does not mean I am always able to do so. There are many occasions that see me finding some idea I’ve had in passing, often made in some footnote, that I’ve pursued further; I’ve gotten several conference papers out of doing that very thing, and I tend to write with a lot of footnotes when I do my academic writing. (One professor commented that I tend to make my better points in my footnotes. I’m still not sure what I should think of that.) But I write less academic stuff at this point than I used to (sensibly, given that I am much less involved in academe than I used to be–which is likely to my benefit and others’), so I have far fewer footnotes from which to work.
Between that and being between teaching sessions at the moment–I expect to have a class in each of the next two upcoming sessions, which will be good, but I don’t have access to course materials to work on sample assignments and the like–I find that I have been struggling for things to write between the entries in the current writing series, and I am not able to work on that series enough at any one time to get away with making three or more entries into it each week. I would love to, of course, but there are enough other things going on that I have not been able to make the time for it.
Even with the challenges to composition, though, I am glad to have the writing series to work on. I do better having direction than not, and working on series gives me that direction or some semblance of it. I could wish to have such direction in other ways, as well, but I am no longer in a place where I’ve got a lot of people telling me what I need to do to be able to get what I want–nor yet any such clear idea of what I want as I have had at points in the past.