I was struck with an idea. Not just any idea—an academic one. I find myself out of practice, and wondering where to find sources when I have no access to an academic library. I’ve spent my precious writing time for the past several days trying to bang out a respectable academic article. It represents an area that my personal library does not cover adequately. The fully employed academic has a library and interlibrary loan to support ideas that won’t let go. It’s a bit more tricky for the independent scholar. I’ve contacted local schools but during these pandemic times there is no public access. Nor electronic access—thanks to all the fancy deals publishers make to try to keep the industry profitable.
The past few academic publications I’ve had were difficult to write, particularly the footnotes. Something the garden-variety academic doesn’t understand is that the university library is a privilege. I read a lot. Probably more now than when I was a professor. Still, research leads you in directions you’d never anticipate. It’s quite a wild ride, actually. So with my current project (I can’t tell you what it is because someone with library access would easily be able to scoop it) I’ve had to buckle up. As I was reading an obvious connection became clear. It reminded me of the thrill of discovery. The researcher has a drive for new knowledge—a treasure-hunter of the mind. It is wonderful to be reminded that there’s more out there still to be discovered.
I’d almost forgotten how an insistent idea can push other projects out of its way. I have any number of projects going simultaneously. They get a few minutes’ attention before the work day starts and some of them mature enough to be sent for publication. At any given time there’s a lot more standing behind those ideas that actually show up on this blog, or in a journal, or even in the fiction venues in which I publish. But that idea just won’t let me go. Even while I’m at work it lurks in the back of my mind. The professorate, for all its limitations, doesn’t pin you down to a nine-to-five schedule even when the time would be better used otherwise. The thing is, you can’t tame ideas. Who would want to live in a world where you could? So I keep working away, hoping to find a library or at least electronic access. It’s just an idea I have.