Earlier this week I finished a complete draft of my new book on cheating in higher education. Although I still have to do most of the peripheral work, such as the notes and works cited and some revising, most of the hard thinking is done. This comes as a particular relief because of a major meltdown I had with the book earlier in the year.
To make a long story short, I had reached around 40,000 words in a manuscript that was following the original proposal I gave to my editor at Harvard UP last summer. But as I researched and wrote, throughout the fall and winter, I had become increasingly uncomfortable with that proposal, which I had put together before I had done most of my research on the topic. Nonetheless, inertia and fear of not meeting my deadline kept me pushing forward.
Near the end of the spring semester, I came to a point one day at which I just suddenly realized that what I had was not working, and that I could no longer move forward with the book as I had proposed it. At the same time, I also received a flash of insight into what the research was really telling me, and how I could present it in ways that would prove most helpful to faculty who were trying to understand, prevent, and respond to cheating in higher education. I stopped writing and paced around the house for a day or two, miserable and depressed. I debated three options: sending back my advance and bagging the whole project, asking for an extension, or holing myself up and working like a dog to meet my original deadline.
In the end, I opted for the third choice. It was an emotionally wrenching process to let 40,000 words go and begin from scratch, but I had a strong conviction that I was onto something good with the new approach I was taking. And now, with the book mostly behind me--75,000 words or so--I am happy I made the decision. I am very pleased with the way the book has turned out, and I hope that I will be able to offer faculty and administrators a new and productive way to think about cheating in higher education. I am excited to get the book into the review and production process, and hope that it will be out and in your hands in the spring of 2013.
In the meantime, I have had and will have a few opportunities to present the ideas from the book to groups of faculty at various institutions. Initial feedback at Ken Bain's summer institute in June was excellent, and I will be discussing the material again with groups of faculty at Framingham State (MA) and at West Kentucky in August. I'm looking forward to hearing what faculty think about the approach I have taken, and will welcome opportunities this fall to present the ideas and get feedback from colleagues on other campuses as the book goes through its review and revision stages.
In the meantime, I'm going to relax for a day or two, anyway. Time to sit down at the piano for a couple of hours, ride bikes with the kids, or just hang on the front porch and watch the world go by.