Tonight, a message popped into my emailbox, bearing the news that the journal to which I submitted my experimental article last month has decided that I should revise and resubmit. Revise and resubmit is not bad news, not at all; I knew, even as I sent it off, that the article had many unresolved tensions and ideas and that it still had only a shadow of the argument I wanted it to have, the idea I'm now trying to write a book to articulate.
And yet my heart still leapt when I saw who'd sent the article. And yet I still thought to myself, "Did they like it? Did they?" And yet I still saw the criticism, as if it had been written in big ugly red letters, before I saw that it was constructive. And yet it still made me cry--
though I do think that the crying is about something else, something like the imminent end of a very long time "off" and the growing, snarling worry that I haven't gotten enough done. And something like the fact that I'm now torn between not wanting to leave this place and not wanting to be away from home anymore. This much time here has reinforced what I think I already knew, which is that this country is not my country, even if this place's literary history is one of my specializations and even if my own country's dominant culture has been pretty profoundly embarrassing to me for quite some time now. I'm an outsider here and don't particularly want to become an insider. But I still love my perch right here in this particular place-within-a-place. I need to see my home people, but I don't want to stop seeing the sights that my eye has started calling home.
I do not even slightly relish the idea of going back to having to drive everywhere again.
So: many things have been combining and conspiring to put me on edge, then even more on edge, and now even more way on edge, which means that it's time to upload some basic truths and then go to sleep on them, to wake restored.
Both the projects on which I'm working are fundamentally worthwhile and will benefit the two main scholarly communities which I identify as my subdisciplinary homes (i.e., Victorian studies and autobiography / life-writing studies).
This spring's experiment in writing has shown me a number of things; tonight, I add "need to work on taking criticism gracefully and not self-abasingly" to that number.
Going home means going back to the classroom, which will enliven and regulate me even as it also leaves me exhausted and feeling slightly crazed.
I have achieved worthwhile things for myself, and by extension for my students and my friends and loved ones, while I have been out of the classroom and out of the country.
I will not waste the months I have left here with worrying. I simply will not.
[twenty minutes pass]
As if sensing the right moment to place a call, my excellent friend has just rung up for a good long cheery chat. All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.