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When I began teaching, I printed out every call for proposals, chapters, and articles. I carefully highlighted the relevant due dates in neon orange and arranged them in due-date order in a wire basket on my desk. That was the last time that I looked at them until the end-of-the-term purge, when I sorted through all the passed calls and tossed them into the trash.
Decades later, I was following the online version of this process. I dragged every call for proposals, chapters, and articles to a “CFP” folder in Gmail and then at the end of the term, I dragged them into a subfolder I named DEAD. I did try some experiments along the way. I made a “Maybe” folder, for the CFPs that I thought had potential, and there was a “Not Likely” for CFPs that I liked, but didn't think I could respond to. All those CFPs ultimately ended up in the “DEAD” folder too.
I tried organizing things in Evernote. I tried printing them out again. I tried pinning them on Pinterest. I tried pasting notes about them in online sticky notes on my desktop. I tried real sticky notes hung up all over my office. I tried everything I could think of, but somehow nothing worked for me.
I let scores of CFPs pass by, unanswered. Honestly, I felt like quite the failure. Academics all over the world manage to keep track of their CFPs and even replied to them, while I only seemed to figure the calls out too late to respond.
In late September, I added a couple of CFPs that I was interested in to my Google Calendar. Since I look at my calendar several times a day, I saw those CFPs frequently. After a few days of seeing those CFPs, I realized that I had come up with a solution that actually worked for me. I went through my inbox folders and added all the relevant CFPs in rhet/comp, technology, pedagogy, and professional writing. I ultimately added calls for nominations, awards, and association positions, as well.
Once I added all this information, I decided to make the calendar public in case it could help any colleagues. This week, I’m inviting you to take advantage of the calendar as well. You can find my calendar of CFPs by visiting http://tengrrl.com/cfp. In addition to visiting the whole collection on my website, you can follow simple instructions to add the entire calendar to your Google calendar and to add individual calls to your Google calendar. I update the calendar about twice a month, adding any CFPs that are posted on the listservs that I subscribe to. If you have a CFP that I missed, you can email it to me.
So, I invite you to heed the call with me. Look through the calendar and find a call that you can respond to. It's a perfect time to make a New Year’s resolution to publish something. I hope you find something that fits you perfectly.
Credit: Juliet by Colleen A. Bryant, on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license
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