Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Project: Dead in the Water????

Roughly one year ago, I successfully finished my graduate comprehensive exam, and the whole world cheered. 

Or just myself, Matt, and a few other close friends and family. (And all of Facebook. Duh.)

Anyways, a few days later I got an email from a professor I had done a special research topic for, asking me if I'd like to continue the research project into a possible book deal. 

I was pretty much sold at the words "publish" and "book", without really thinking of all the "work" and "time" it would take to get there. That quickly came in to play but I decided it was okay, because I can do ANYTHING!!!! (And really, because I'm a secret Cullen-type vampire who doesn't need any sleep. Which is incredibly false. Sorry I lied to you just there.) Really, I was excited about the opportunity for a while. It made me feel smart, and I was eager to read all these incredibly boring articles on the topic and then merge all my new-found knowledge into one giant compilation of smart-ness which we would call a book I "wrote" myself. I was to have a mentor who was faculty at the university so I could access the database for articles and not have to pay the $8754 dollars that you usually would have to per article. (Who knew intelligence was so expensive? That's right. Everyone. Especially the government. Wrong topic? Sure.) Theoretically, this mentor was supposed to be able to help me understand the super-science-y parts of the project that I didn't understand. He was supposed to read these articles as I read them, then we would meet and discuss the findings and put them into a coherent format that would eventually become a chapter, then a portion, and then a whole book. 

Here's what really happened: 

I read a whole bunch of research articles in my free time as a part of a "job" I agreed to do which I was not getting paid for. (I mean, I was getting paid in knowledge, right? But I like money a whole bunch.)

I met with and discussed these articles on several occasions with the mentor, who hadn't read any of the articles, but instead asked me what I had read and then asked more questions about stuff I didn't know (because I admittedly didn't understand some of what I had read. Which was why I was at this meeting.). I'm pretty sure he asked the questions because he felt guilty he hadn't read the articles, but didn't want to waste my time being there. Which, was exactly what he was doing. But I digress. 

I stopped reading these articles in such detail. I got in the habit of scanning the important sections for facts (the day of), noting them, and bringing these notes to the meetings hoping that the other member of this party would have read them. 

Eventually, near the end of 2011, my mentor became impossible to get a hold of. I couldn't get responses to emails, at some point couldn't get responses to text messages.... all of which simply stated "Have you managed to read those articles? If so, will we require a meeting on _____ day?"

A few weeks ago we met again for the first time since November. That's 5 months. I haven't done anything on this project because not only was I not getting a response, but I found out that he had lost his job with the university, and I assumed that meant everything was dead in the water. Which was fine with me. Really. 

Turns out that the mentor wants to continue this project, and assured me that he would be much more accessible and involved from here on out. I placed roughly zero faith in this comment (since I've heard it before), but agreed to meet him on 3/25. The reading assignment agreed upon? Re-read the articles I read a year ago for my comp exams. I didn't read them. I have notes on them and a busy social schedule. 

Which brings me to today. And my current conundrum. 

I don't have the passion for this project that I initially did. I'm frustrated that I've done all this work with repeated excuses, some of which may have well been boldfaced lies. I've had my time wasted, which I wasn't being compensated for, and I've skipped workout sessions (which are important to me) and time with  Matt and my family (also, super important) in order to make these meetings. When I sent an email this morning to confirm that he had read the articles, and to confirm if today's meeting would happen, I've still not received a response. 

I want to quit this project. I don't see it going anywhere. I don't do any work on it. My mentor doesn't do any work on it. And it's a complete uncertainty at this point that it would even continue past his current employment situation. I'm not getting paid for this project, and I feel that my time is worth so much more. It's nothing personal, but I'm simply too busy for this kind of time-suckery.

But I committed to it, knowing that it would be a long, tough process. I just envisioned that I would have more support as a part of it. 

So my question to you, my dear readers, would you continue the project and honor the commitment you made or would you jump ship and use that extra time for something more substantial? (I realize I've basically answered this question on my own, but I'm seeking some kind of camaraderie here. Tell me I'm making the right decision if I quit, ok?)

Leave comments!!! 


  1. Let me preface my response with this. you know me. i'm not a quitter either. we're school people. we like learning, books, being smart and blah blah blah. MISS HEATHER QUIT THIS PROJECT!!!

  2. I think this project needs to be put on the shelf for a while (like years). Obviously it is not as important to your mentor as it was made out to be and you are very busy and important. You will never lose the knowledge and will always be amazing and awesome. Maybe in 5 years or so you will be in a place in your life (and your mentor his, or a new mentor, whatever) where the project will be doable. I say leave it alone for now, but see if there is a way to leave the option open, as it's a cool door to leave open. It's possible the mentor is looking for a way out too. If not, then run. This project is not going anywhere soon. Love you!!

  3. um...quit. quit now. It sounds to me like your mentor is also looking for a way out, and maybe doesn't have the balls to end it himself. And yes, endeavors like this are hard, long, and full of setbacks but what is supposed to push you through them is the passion you have for the project. And it sounds to me like you've lost that, which is totally fine, because it wasn't your original project to begin with. Take it as a learning experience, tell yourself that this doesn't have to be your only opportunity to do something like this in the future - only next time it could be a project of your own design and on your own terms.

  4. I don’t know you or the topic of your book, but accidently stumbled upon your blog and was intrigued by the "Book Project" title.

    A book is a huge commitment. Has the project been accepted for publication or is it simply something your professor “thinks” may get published? If this was a dream of yours I would say go for it, but it sounds like it was an opportunity you hadn’t thought about until it was offered, but are afraid to pass up. If you even have to question if you want to continue then you have your answer; the time isn’t right and it is time to move on.

  5. Ultimately, what did you decided?