Home Till January: Plans for Research Leave

When I’m looking to give my friends who work 9-5 jobs a hard time, I send them texts like this one:

WorkText

Before texting my buddy, the plan for this post was to go on to explain that even though I technically don’t have to be back on campus for another 238 days, there’s actually a lot of work to be done. That thought was inspired by those who say to my wife, “Since Bill’s not working…”

There is an online course to teach this summer that involves a lot of preparation before it begins, and once it starts a lot of reading and responding to online texts and emails. I always say I like to read student writing, but sometimes there is just too much of it. However, nothing like a glimpse into my friend’s Office Space work life to spur me on to try and make the most of this opportunity I have to be away from campus.

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one of my fav scenes from 1999 film Office Space

At St. John’s University where I teach, we faculty are fortunate enough that we still have the opportunity to be granted research leave. I was granted leave for the fall semester, and I’m feeling pressure to get myself organized to make sure I don’t misuse my opportunity. I know that I can be productive, but I want to be the right kind of productive. Below are some of the lists I’ve been working on so far.

Three Big Points of Emphasis:

  1. Family time including coaching lots of girls basketball
  2. Build Asheville creative connections: writing, film, comedy, performance
  3. Write or edit film first thing each morning
  4. Professional development
  5. Experiments in building online conversations around this website and the Torg Stories podcast

Projects to Work On:

  1. Short documentary film about students who come to the United States to study
  2. Article based on interviews done with students who are studying abroad in the United States
  3. Essays for a collection perhaps titled A Yankee in the South: Tales of a Native Hoosier… I don’t know what the end of that title is. When I first started dating my wife Megan, her mother used to tell people her daughter was “dating a Yankee.”  I’ve since learned that if you’re from places like Alabama, then the folks in Tennessee might be thought of as Northerners.
  4. Pitching films to friends that might involve juice cleanses and lawn mower races.

Items for the Daily Schedule:

  1. Write new stuff or edit film
  2. Work the girls out
  3. Teaching prep and reading student work (for summer)
  4. work out
  5. Read
  6. Write reflections on reading
  7. Podcast/blog work
  8. Professional development (Final Cut Pro X, sound mixing to start)
  9. look for publishing opportunities for written not published work
  10. Go out and about and meet people in Asheville
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the master plan for research leave is still evolving

 

 

 

 

Bearwallow Mountain Trail

Asheville, North Carolina, hike, Gerton

lots of pretty flowers in early June

Bearwallow Mountain Trail is near Gerton, North Carolina. On Sunday, June 7, 2015 I went to hike the trail up to the top of the mountain with my wife Megan, dog Indy, and daughters ages six and nine. With temperatures in the 80’s where we live in Asheville, we were surprised to reach the mountain and find it 63 degrees on the dashboard temperature gauge. It was a cloudy day and the mountain was surrounded by a mist. The girls called it “magical” and it turned out to give the day its own unique feel. We plan to return on a clear day to check out the views.

Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen Times, Hiking, hikes, family, kids,  karen  Chavez

the steps on the way to the top of the mountain

The hike is strenuous, about a mile in length, and it took us about 30 minutes to reach the top. Our youngest has recently proclaimed that she wants to be a professional runner, and so she’s been running a half mile in our neighborhood. So our kids are active and they made it up and down the mountain without much complaining.

Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen Times, Hiking, hikes, family, kids,  karen  Chavez

noted by Mrs. T as a possible dwelling for fairies

We found out about the hike in an article published in the Asheville Citizen-Times by Mackensy Lunsford titles “5 Perfect Places to Picnic, and How to Create a Memorable Outdoor Meal.” Mackensy is @mackensy on Twitter and she was quick to credit @KarenChavezACT for the information in the article. I look forward to following both of these ladies for all things Asheville and the outdoors.

Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen Times, Hiking, hikes, family, kids,  karen  Chavez, Bearwallow Mountain Road, Gerton, North Carolina, Bearwallow Mountain Trail

even though our views were obstructed by fog, the top of the mountain was beautiful

a short video from the top

Welcome to Torg Stories

Seven years ago I made the switch from high school English teacher and basketball coach to writer and professor.  Since that time, I’ve been blessed to have been hired to teach First Year Writing courses at St. John’s University in New York. I write novels, scripts, publish a podcast, and have just sent out my first documentary film for consideration at several film festivals.

Cherokee McGhee Press has published two of my novels. The first, Love on the Big Screen, tells the story of a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies. In writing that book, I drew upon my early dating experiences, my time riding the bench of a small-college basketball team, and my devotion to 80s films such as Say Anything and Sixteen Candles.   My adaptation of that novel won the Grand Prize of the Rhode Island International Screenplay Competition.

 

80s Movies music John Cusack John Hughes Say Anything Olivet Nazarene lovea scene from the novel by artist Keegan Laycock

 

Horseshoe is my most recent novel and is set in a fictionalized version of my hometown, Winamac, Indiana. It’s a place where everyone knows everybody else’s business.  Writer Bryan Fuhurness endorsed the novel by writing, “What Sherwood Anderson would have written if he had a sense of humor.”

William Torgerson 80s romantic comedy Winamac Indiana Say Anything Cusack High Fidelity faith God healing service

 

I ask my students to write a hybrid research paper we call a Scholarly Personal Narrative. I think of Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man and Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking as examples of this sort of text that combines a personal story with scholarly research.  The students also create short documentary films, follow Tweets in their area of interest, and compose ePortfolios as their final writing project.

In order to consider my professional life, I use a metaphor gifted to me by a former professor: Writing Floats on a Sea of Conversation. Given that, I invite you to respond to anything you find here as the first lines of what could be a rewarding conversation.  You can get in touch with me via Twitter @BillTorg or write me an email at William.Torgerson@gmail.com