As some readers may know, I have signed the contract for my second publication, which will be a collaborative translation of the text which formed the basis of my PhD and first monograph - Urbanus magnus (The Book of the Civilised Man) by Daniel of Beccles.
Our deadline for submission of the manuscript was mid-January and I have just asked for an extension. Now, if myself and my collaborators really pushed, we probably could have got it finished in time. But that would have meant working through the Christmas vacation.
Academia has a weird sense of duty and sacrifice. Because we love our subjects, we must therefore be willing to devote all our time to it. Free time should be dedicated to the next project.
This is problematic at so many levels because it creates a sense of servitude to your passion and no allowance for taking a break. For me, my day job is not academic (although I work in an academic environment. My 9-5 job means that my academic pursuits already take place in my free time (evenings/weekends). Although that is a choice I have willingly made, there are limits to it all. I try and do as much as I can in my spare time without it negatively impacting on my personal life and impacting on loved ones.
So what is the point of this rambling post. Well, one reason I asked for the extension was to spend Christmas with my family not worrying about the submission date and working towards that. While I may do some work, I didn't want to field beholden to this project to the detriment of my experience home with family.
Do I feel guilty about this? In the past I would have. My last monograph needed an extra month passed the deadline and I felt horrible about it! But I have realised that accepting your limitations and red lines are important. Christmas is a red line for me. I wish that academia accepted more the fact that everyone is due a break. And a true break. Not a break where you catch up on your research and find time to write. But rather, a break where it is absolutely fine to switch off and do nothing. Because we all need to do nothing sometimes.