Month: December 2022

2022 in Rearview Mirror, 2023 in Rose-Colored Glasses

Happy 2023 to all blog readers! May 2023 bring you good health and contentment, and, if you’re in academia, also untold grant riches, high-profile publications, and a teaching schedule that makes you miss the most pointless meetings.

This has been my 2022:


  • Wrote 7,834 grants. Several were funded and lean times were avoided
  • Taught twice as many courses as I usually do, to great fame and success, but mostly great exhaustion. Also great joy due to interacting with undergrads, and, yes, great teaching evaluations
  • Moved labs. Paid movers out of pocket because department was not helpful and I refused to have graduate students throw  out their backs by moving heavy furniture
  • Started several new research projects. Interviewed a bunch of new students, some of whom will hopefully come here and on whom I plan to spend the aforementioned grant money
  • Did some nice science. Papers forthcoming


  • Eldest graduated college and started grad school! It feels like it happened ages ago, but it was only this May
  • Smurf started middle school
  • I read like a literary speed demon (finished roughly 150 books this year, about 120 on Kindle)
  • Wrote and published some short fiction (ten acceptances, to be precise, out of 88 submissions, which is about the same as last year, but not as many as I did in the years past). I was busy with teaching and writing ALL TEH GRANTZ and, honestly, a bit bummed out about all the funding precariousness. Also, it’s been five years of writing short fiction, so it’s a little less enticing than it used to be. I am itching for a different challenge, not in lieu, but in addition to short fiction—
  • Which is why I’ve started and am about to finish the first draft of a novel

In the coming year, I plan to:

  • Finish the novel, edit, have it beta-read (already scheduled), edit more, and then start the painful job of trying to get it traditionally published (both through agents and through direct submissions to publishers that allow it). If the novel were to get picked up for publication, I would consider 2023 a smashing success
  • I should put out Academaze II. I’ve got a great cover already commissioned and finished. I could and should probably do that in the spring, low-key, and save the summer to start drafting a second novel
  • I’ve been thinking about putting out a short-fiction collection. I have a unifying theme and certainly plenty of stories to choose from. Collections don’t sell very well, so I am a little ho-hum about doing it. Maybe between novels

How’s your year been, blogosphere? Highlights from 2022? Plans for 2023? 

Back to Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback can be tricky. Tact is paramount, and even the most salient point will fall on deaf ears if not delivered with respect and kindness. (See here and here.) However, the recipient must be genuinely open to feedback, otherwise the whole exercise is moot. 

I know a few short-fiction writers who ask for critique, but no matter how on point or how tactfully delivered the feedback may be, these authors end up incorporating none of it (and, in a few cases, end up aggrieved that there was any feedback to begin with). Of course, no one is expected to agree with every comment or adopt every suggestion, but feedback from seasoned writers usually illuminates legitimate issues that deserve some reflection. 

Recently, a similar thing happened with a junior faculty member in the context of technical writing. This was not the first such instance, either. This junior faculty member will ask for feedback on their writing, and not just from me, and then basically ignore all of it. In the most recent review cycle, I sent  only broad-strokes feedback but no sentence-level feedback because I’ve had the experience of it being ignored and I don’t have time to waste, but another colleague did provide detailed inline comments, and did a pretty good job of it, too. The junior faculty member ended up not incorporating a single suggestion, even the comments that were no brainers, such as suggestions regarding cumbersome sentences that desperately needed restructuring. Let’s not even talk about hyphenation or punctuation, something that most people are generally worse at than they think they are, but too few strive to improve (The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is my sacred text).

I mean, why even ask for feedback if you don’t want to reflect upon what you’ve written? Not all feedback is equally valid, but assuming you’re asking people whom you trust, who get what you are trying to do, and who have experience in your genre (be it fiction or technical prose), why wouldn’t you consider their feedback seriously? 

Conversely, if you feel your work is beyond reproach, why do you waste people’s time? Do you expect they will come back and say, “This is perfection. No notes”? Is it some weird pull between thinking you ought to get feedback and also believing you are above feedback? I can sympathize with this sentiment, truly, but I usually have the presence of mind (or perhaps humility) to recognize when someone has pointed out a real issue. The goal should be to make the manuscript the best it can be. Having a healthy dose of ego is good, as it helps you stand your ground in the face of low-quality, bad-faith, or misguided feedback. But the ego shouldn’t be so large that it obscures avenues for real improvement simply because someone else has pointed them out. 

What say you, blogosphere? How’s your experience with giving/receiving feedback been? 

Essays on Professional Jealousy in Intimate Relationships

This essay hits hard.

And there’s this one, that turns darker still:


If you want to follow the discussion on Twitter, here are a couple of threads.