Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stepping down

Dear Bidar & Evan,

The deadline for abstracts is creeping up, and I've been dragging my feet. I assure you this is not due to any recently acquired lack of interest or commitment to the subject. The conference in June was a break in the clouds from the otherwise dreary gloom I've had since completing my dissertation March 2004. It's a simple matter of having spent the past three years as a PhD unable to gain a foothold in academia, beyond the overwork, miserable pay, and lack of benefits that are offered to adjunct faculty in the States. After ~150 applications for permanent faculty posts, I've determined it time to move on.

I've yet to obtain any funding or institutional support for my [Longitudinal Project], without which the endeavor has stalled. I have found however a renewed commitment to my research, and a hope that I can muster practical applications from it before my savings run out. My current efforts deal with [brief description]. While I intend to keep up research in the area of [subject of the conference last June, where I gave a plenary address], it may simply have to wait until I have sufficient income to support my family (growing now, with our third son due to arrive in the next month). After having spent the past several years supporting me and the boys, my wife is intent to take a few years hiatus from being an engineer. The upshot is, at the moment, I'm not sure just what I might contribute to the planned volume, and regretfully withdraw.

I hope this missive meets you both well, and that you will understand my situation.

All best regards, with hope that we shall remain in touch,


*****Updated to add reply from Bidar*****

Dear Articulate

Many thanks for your heartfelt email. I can certainly understand and appreciate your frustration with job hunting. The American job market is prohibitively competitive.

It is a great disappointment to me that you will be unable to offer something for the volume, and I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. The volume has a very strong array of contributors and your own work would complement it well.

All best wishes,

Chairman, Department of [Field 1]
General Editor, [Journal] [Publisher]
General Editor, [Book series] [Publisher]

*****End reply from Bidar*****

Now, what to do? I am torn. What are my measures? What determines worth and value? How do I decide where to expend my energies?

*****Updated to add my response****

Dear Bidar,

Alright... I reconsider. But I won't be able to get you an abstract by sundown. If I get you one by next Friday (18 Jan) will that do?




undine said...

Would it take you a long time to write it? Do you want to keep a door open in that field?

It sounds as though they really would like your contribution, since they could have stopped with the first paragraph.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, undine. Will it take me long? Who knows for sure. There's no point in putting my name to a publication unless it's something I can be proud of. I suspect it'll take the better part of a week or two. It may be less, depending on how closely I decide to follow the brunt of my talk at the conference.

Do I want to keep a door open? I guess it never hurts to keep up bridges. To be honest, I'm not sure to what end. At the moment, I have no intention to continue pursuing a faculty post. I'm tired of the chase, and I believe my energies will be better served elsewhere. It seems vanishingly unlikely that someone will make me an offer without me pursuing one. Of course, if you close a door, someone is sure to knock.

When a streetlight shines for years in an abandoned alley, that has seen no traffic, and the light burns out, you've got to ask yourself, is it worth replacing that bulb? Perhaps it's just as well, to raise a lamp somewhere else. But you never really know if traffic might not return to that alley once the light is out.