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*****
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****
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?