Summertime, and…what am I gonna do, anyway?

Only another half-dozen class meetings until the end of the semester. Then a blitz of monster student papers, and then…and then…white-hot silence.

For the first time in many a year, I’m looking at an entire three-month summer break with nothing to do. Even when I was in graduate school and couldn’t take summer classes because they didn’t give enough time to write graduate-level research papers, I had things going on in the summer: research projects, society-wife machinations, trips to Hawaii, West Virginia, Atlanta, England, and waypoints. When I was teaching at the Great Desert University, I usually taught in at least one and sometimes both summer sessions by way of generating a living wage. And of course, over the past five or six years I held a twelve-month administrative position. Though it had normal vacations time, I rarely took any because I had nothing better to do.

So. In the “nothing better to do” department, the question is what on earth am I going to do this summer? Choir ends on May 30, by which time I probably will have both my fall classes set up and ready to go. And in a 115-degree summer, there’s never much going on in Phoenix.

I’m thinking this will be a good opportunity to try to wring a book out of Funny. That’s been on the agenda since shortly after I started the blog. I haven’t done it mostly because I’ve been busy. Mining almost three years’ worth of posts for material that will hang together in a reasonable way will be a big job in itself. With that done, there’ll be the matter of rewriting the stuff to obliterate the blogginess and make it act like print book copy.

Another possibility is to focus on the blog itself and on trying to expand readership. In the past couple of days, Funny has experienced an amazing spike in traffic, apparently because an MSN Money Talks story that mentioned the Great No-Detergent Laundry Experiment was featured on Yahoo.com. The result was huge: in one day, Adsense earned more than it normally does in an entire month.

If daily traffic averaged half that much, 325 days a year, that plus the Social Security plus the normal flow of editorial projects would return my net income to about what I was earning at the Great Desert University. And I’d never have to read another freshman paper again.

It being unlikely that I’d earn that much on a book and certain that book revenues would not stretch out over a period of years, I incline toward spending six to eight hours a day on the blog: writing, marketing, and publicizing. If I actually sat down and organized my time intelligently, three months of that could at least set Funny on the right trajectory.

Or, in the “now for something entirely different” department, I could try to write a genre mystery novel. That’s also an idea that’s been percolating. But I dunno…it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm. I think I’d rather edit them than write them.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Sidney Paget. Public domain.

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Simple in France April 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Working on the blog full time sounds like fun to me! I’ve been throwing myself into mine lately because . . . I can. But not full time. It would be an interesting experiment.

By the way–I’m absolutely going to try washing w/o detergent now! That’s a great article.

Room Farm April 22, 2010 at 1:57 am

Hah! It was you….I got some of your spillover and there was tons of traffic at RoomFarm, which was mystifying until just now. I vote for blog and book, you are a fantastic writer and a book from the blog would be so useful. I can see the chapter headings now: “No Poo and You” “Surviving the Great Recession” etc. Or, get on the bus and get out of 115 degree heat — go north and blog as you go on frugal travel. Anyway, I am a huge fan and would love to see a book come out of this.

frugalscholar April 22, 2010 at 6:11 am

I agree with Chance–get out of the heat! You can pay your son the going rate to tend your pool and all that.

Susan April 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Hi Funny,

I fact that you never really took vacation because you had “nothing better to do” is worth pondering. I recommend spending some time with that thought and trying to strike a pleasant balance between work and play. How can one ever really embrace “bumhood” if you can’t contend with the thought of not having a structured workplace?

I know you write – but, do you enjoy any of the other arts?

funny April 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm

@ Susan: I really don’t like to travel. I grew up overseas, traveled all over the Middle East, Europe, the British Isles, Canada, Alaska, the contiguous United States, Hawaii, the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand. I’ve traveled when traveling wasn’t torture, and I can’t even imagine subjecting myself to the conditions that airline passengers face today to go to places that I’ve already visited or lived in.

I live in a resort destination. It is extremely beautiful here, with fine restaurants, superb weather, and a vibrant cultural life. Having spent a third of my life traveling the world, I just don’t feel any need to bat around for no purpose other than to bat around, especially when home is a place that people pay a lot of money to come and visit.

Other arts? I sing in a world-class choir that delivers an active nine-month season of classical choral music, from Bach to Rutter and beyond. Our city hosts three Actor’s Equity companies, one of the most eminent museums of Native American art and culture on the planet, one excellent and at least three very good museums of fine European, Asian, and American art, three large sporting arenas, spring training fields for professional baseball, a vibrant jazz scene, a credible bluegrass scene, chamber music, symphony, opera, ballet, a world-class botanical garden…oh heck, it goes on and on. You couldn’t list all the things that go on here in a paragraph or two.

Susan April 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

Funny – I wasn’t necessary suggesting travel. It just seemed sad to me that you were making a statement that sounded like you had no interests outside of the workplace. I am somewhat of a homebody myself – so I understand that traveling isn’t always a fascinating time.

I am glad you sing in a choir – is there anything else that peaks your interest? I understand your city has a lot to offer in the world of arts – but, you enjoy partaking in any of it?

carla April 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Funny–I’ve been with you from the beginning. Has it been 3 years already? I have enjoyed every post, every time.

You’re thinking old school. I say, make your FaM compilation as an E-book. I’ll bet you could write a short mystery as an E-book. You can publish anything you want yourself. You have the forum, and you certainly have the wit, humor and style to attract and hold readers.

Whatever you do, I’ll still check in every day.
carla

funny April 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Y’know, Susan, there’s something profoundly lonely about going to performances alone. If I can get someone to go with me, I will happily go to movies, concerts, plays, & the like. But if not, at least when I’m home I’m in the company of my dog. Also, experience has shown that when you buy a single ticket to a performance, you end up behind a pillar or shoved off on the far left or right side.

I’ve taken art classes–the Desert Botanical Garden has a really nifty series of botanical drawing and painting classes, with shows and a number of other activities. In its penury, the city is closing down its recreational programs, including a wonderful art center that has provided a venue for professional artists to teach drawing, painting, and sculpture.

The community colleges offer various dance classes–and as a facultyoid, I get a tuition waiver, not that the tuition is very much…certainly less than a dance studio charges. But again…who’m I gonna dance with?

Revanche April 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You’re making Phoenix sound like quite the place! I once worked for a former native who spoke of it so disparagingly it seemed like it truly was nothing but a desert.

funny April 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

LOL! It’s an acquired taste. And the urban areas do have some really ticky-tacky, ugly development. Most of the small towns are hideous. It’s a place that would be very beautiful if it weren’t for the cities and towns.

If a person had plenty of money, that person would probably prefer to live in San Francisco. Or Seattle. Or the south of France…

funny April 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm

@ Carla: Thanks! I wish self-publishing were as easy as printing a book and watching people beat a path to your front door. Even authors who publish through standard houses now have to market their books themselves, and that’s a big, challenging job. One advantage of going with a regular publishing house (especially if you already have four books in print :-)) is that you’re likely to get a nice advance. Unless you’re a strong marketer, that may be as much as you ever see from the thing.

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