Perhaps it has happened to you as well. At some undisclosed period life became so busy that you felt as if—in a good southern California metaphor—you were riding on a huge wave and you couldn’t get off. Back in my teaching days I had time to plan my trips to AAR/SBL and fit in some human activities as well as maybe even getting around to see the outside once in a while. It’s great to run into so many people from every stage of my academic life—toddlerhood at Grove City College through my current doddering editorship—but I can’t help having the feeling that I’m popular now because I’m thought to have something others want. The keys to the kingdom. A possibility of getting published.
Those of you who read my daily reflections know that I’m glad to share publishing knowledge. I encourage academic authors to learn a bit about the publishing industry. It’s rapidly changing and when you have an inside track (here is the real added value) you need to look beyond your current book project to see what goes on behind the veil. Widen the focus. There’s a whole world out there! My glimpses out the hotel window inform me that there’s an entire bay to be explored. I watched seals or sea lions (it’s hard to tell from this distance) playing in the water as the sun rose. Then a seagull flew up and landed inches from my face on the windowsill of my room. It stayed for nearly a minute, looking me over as I looked it over. Noticing the tiny white feathers that formed a W on the edges of its beak. Its Silly Putty pink feet with small black nails. The emerging red patch on the underside of its bill. It took a step off the ledge, spread its wings and looked elsewhere for a snack. I soon learned why. A second later a larger gull landed in its place. We too regarded one another curiously. Had the glass not been there, we could’ve easily touched. It also lept off to be replaced by an even larger, more mature gull. None of the three were in any hurry to get away, but when they realized I couldn’t give them what they wanted, they left.
I’m a great fan of metaphor. Academic writing, unfortunately, doesn’t encourage the craft of utilizing it (neither does it often encourage being coherent). Later this morning—it will be early afternoon back home—I have to rush to the airport to catch a hopeful tailwind back east. Someone else will check into my room. If, perchance they sit by the window with the curtain drawn before dawn, the gulls will visit. And maybe a lesson will be taken away.