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TAA Executive Director’s Message

 “Only connect!” ­–E.M. Forster from Howard’s End

Michael Spinella
Michael Spinella

As I sat down to write this column about networking opportunities at TAA, this marvelous two-word sermon from Howard’s End came to mind. Alas, the timing of that great novel (1910) precludes any attempt to read the quote as an aphorism aimed at the digital age, urging us to hone our networking skills! Making matters worse, Forster (or rather, the character in his novel) wasn’t even talking about connecting with other people, but about connecting “the prose and the passion” contained within each of us to make a whole person.

Still… Networking is important, at least in part, as a way of connecting the effort you put into your writing (the prose) with your greater purpose of creating impactful scholarly works (the passion). Creating those connections involves getting out of your own head and the solitariness of authoring to learn from and share your own experiences with others who are walking a similar path. The question is how you go about doing that.

TAA provides many opportunities for you to connect, but let me focus on two of them in this note: the Academic Authoring Conference coming up in June, and the online member community available on our newly launched website.

I hope you will join us in Baltimore for the 2014 Conference. There will be a variety of sessions on offer to help you with the craft of writing and with finding new ways – from technology to humor – to connect with your readers. Depending on where you are in your career, you can offer or seek mentoring help. Everyone should plan to join a Roundtable Discussion to hear new perspectives on commonly experienced challenges. And, finally, come to the many networking events – from short breaks to the awards luncheon to special hospitality hours – to connect with your old friends and meet new colleagues. The Conference is a once-a-year event that could be very important for building up your network and maintaining connections.

I also encourage you to get involved with TAA’s new online member community, where you will have the opportunity to seek advice, engage with colleagues about a challenge you are facing, or simply get a break from the grind of writing.  Within the online community you can start or join a “circle” or discussion group focused on a particular topic of interest, search for a mentor or collaborator, or read broadly among writing topics and contribute to those where you have expertise on TAA’s E-lists (listserv). Check out the online member community.


Michael Spinella

TAA Executive Director