About a month ago (judging from the date of this post as a “draft”), I started thinking about whether a series of 1600 word analytic “posts” might actually be a format for the book, and not just a clever trick to get it written. Instead of chapters, the book would be 50 “posts” that are a mix of my analysis and the actual full posts that constitute my data. The book would put the two types of “posts” in conversation with one another (at least as much as can be achieved in the linear arrangement of posts in print).
1600 words seems doable and would yield a book of about the right length. Plus, blogging platform Medium suggests 1600 words may be the ideal length for a blog post. They found that the average number of seconds spent reading a post peaked at 7 minutes, which they say translates into about 1600 words.
In the initial flush of excitement, I thought that I probably already had lots of 1600 word posts written about a wide variety of relevant topics: narratives and counter-narratives, consciousness raising, affordances of blogs, blogging norms, history of the mommy blog, debates about the radical potential of the mommy blog, online autism activism, the warrior mom, the saint, the narrative of the open future, how the community in mommy blogs is about more than just personal support, how blogs could do allyship, dilemmas and strategies of being an ally mom, the evolution from personal to political blogs, what’s happened to mommy blogs and why. Then I noticed that I seldom write anything in 1600 words. That’s fine, editing for concision is a virtue.
Then I started working on producing a post about counter-narratives that came in at 1600 words (soon, very soon, I hope to complete and post). That was a month ago and one post a month is not going to get the job done. The problem is that most weeks, I count myself disciplined and fortunate to carve out two hours (usually with a group of colleagues who bring chocolate and coffee to the library every Tuesday at 1:30). What would it take to find 4 hours or 6 hours or 8 hours a week? I’ve concluded that less grading, less email, and fewer meetings might get me two more hours a week. There may be limits to how much of that can happen immediately, but it’s a good target.
In the senior capstone class I am teaching this semester, I’ve encouraged students to write down what it will take to move their project forward each week. Sometimes I invite them to write it down on a card they hand in on Monday and get back on Friday. Sometimes I encourage them to say it out loud to someone else. So this is me writing it down and saying it out loud. 1600 words, another two hours. It’s a start.