Strange thing: I've been able to get writing done at the office lately. In the last several years I have d?-evolved into one of those faculty members who can only get "real work" (ahem) done if I'm away from the office. For me this means either working in my home office or laptopping it at a local cafe (which some grad students like to refer to as my "downtown office"). But for whatever reason, writing at the office has been working for me these past few weeks. Maybe the sabbatical gave me a new perspective and made me miss good old Lincoln Hall (asbestos and all). Maybe I'm just at a stage in this book chapter where I need the physical space to spread out, sort, and systematically work through piles of archival material; I don't have that kind of space at home. Or maybe I'm starting to figure out how better to merge my writing life with the rest of my life. I used to be paranoid that if I attempted to write at the office people would "bother" me and "distract" me from my work. More often than not, however, most of the time I'm the one that's bothering me and allowing myself to be distracted. Even in the middle of a busy corridor on the first floor of a high-traffic building on campus, I can usually work for a few hours in a row without any interruption.
Perhaps this writing-at-the-office thing is just another in a long line of temporary solutions to the more permanent problem of how to get butt in chair. Many of my colleagues who live with little people at home don't have much choice about where to work and so they put in their 8, 10, 12 hour days on campus while I'm doing the same elsewhere. It's nice to have choices, and I know from years of experience that I write best when I can be flexible and shake up the routine if necessary. But I admit I sometimes worry about the message it sends, especially to grad students. Does my tendency to write away from campus give the impression that while I'm at the office I'd rather be somewhere -- anywhere -- else? I hope not.