I just wrote a ridiculously long post about the ins and outs of the meeting two weeks ago about the FGS history project, and by the end I was so tired of the drama and of my fretting about it that I couldn't bring myself to post it. So here's the short version:
- It seems completely obvious to me, to the Librarian, and to the Archivist that there are in fact two distinct visions for the book: ours, which is about writing a serious book for people who are really interested, and Co-Author's and Communication Director's, which is about writing a book that is at least 50% pictures, on the theory that the book's only readers will be alumnae who want to see pictures of themselves and their friends.
- The Head of School seems determinedly cheerful that this is all going to work out, but she is also reluctant to actually make any determinations about, for example, which of the above visions is the one she wants us to pursue; instead, her line is that everything is somehow all going to work out.
- As part of that cheerfulness, HoS was really friendly at that meeting and even did things like make eye contact with me and speak to me directly, something she hadn't done since May ... but she seems to have reverted to avoidance in the intervening couple of weeks, and at the all-school retreat on Friday we sat next to each other for a bit and didn't interact at all. (I can't tell in that instance who started it; was I avoiding her because I thought she was avoiding me?)
- We had asked Historian to rejoin the committee, since FGS history is his passion, and I had figured he would strike a blow for careful, real research. Clearly I had forgotten that his primary passion is maintaining his role as Golden Boy, which means always trying to stay on everyone's good side by refusing to take a stand that might annoy anyone in power. People who always put politics above principle make me grumpy.
- It probably would do me some good to learn a lesson or two from Golden Boy Historian and to sometimes put politics above principle, but I think that ship may have sailed in the case of this book project.
- Apparently the approach we're going to take to making this collaboration work is more meetings. Oh dear. HoS's idea was that from now on the entire committee (including her and the Communications Director and the Director of Development) would read and respond to all chapters, and Co-Author's idea was that the two of us should have meetings regularly, perhaps every other week, to really collaborate, which I guess sounds fine on the surface, but then when I said, trying to be cheerful, "and having regular meetings can work nicely as built-in deadlines," she responded condescendingly, "that's not the point, WN." At least the Archivist and the Historian both chimed in to say that they'd like to be at those biweekly meetings as well, which everyone agreed to, which spares me from the tete-a-tete but also means that four of us are now meeting every other week to do ... what, exactly? Not actually clear.
- The next step is a meeting of the full committee on Monday, Sept. 23, in which we're going to spend 45 minutes all discussing my chapter 1, 45 minutes discussing Co-Author's chapter 2, and then a half-hour discussing next steps. The goal is to come up with a model that our chapters should follow. I cannot begin to tell you how much I'm dreading that meeting.
Several days ago I decided on the way to school in the morning that I was definitely going to withdraw from the entire project that very day. Seriously, the personal cost of this project has been immense in the last four months, and I see every indication that this cost is only going to rise as we continue. I spent most of the meeting with a pounding heart and clenched gut, and that's simply no way to live. And I don't want to expend all of that personal energy on a project I'm not excited about, and I'm pretty sure that my serious book for interested readers idea is now dead on the vine. Plus, we don't need the money in the same way now that D. has a job, and I think at this point peace and lack of drama are a far greater goal than sticking with a project that is mostly giving me grief.
And then I talked with the Archivist and the Librarian, and they both convinced me that I can't withdraw yet, that I have to wait until after our next meeting or I will look like I'm simply unwilling to have my work criticized and that I refuse to collaborate. And maybe they're right, but if I quit after Sept. 23 do I look like I'm simply walking away in a huff? Hard to know how to read the situation. I think I'm probably better off waiting until after that meeting and then saying that we clearly aren't all working with the same vision for the book and so I will bow out and leave the field clear for Co-Author's vision and that I wish them all well and leave them my work to do with as they please as long as my name isn't attached to it. Or at least that's my plan for now.