I spent most of the afternoon at the office today, pulling together my graduate course. It's been a different process for me than my past few new preps, because it's an entirely different kind of course from what I've mostly been teaching the past couple of years. Many of my courses have a similar basic structure, and the differences come from the content. But this one could be organized in several different ways. The process of figuring it out really has felt very much like writing an essay. At the end of the afternoon, I finally looked at what I'd outlined on screen and felt that magic a-ha! just like when you've been writing and rewriting for a while and then finally see the kernel of real argument. It all makes sense now -- it reveals its concerns in its shape -- just like some kinds of poems. Not that a syllabus is a poem -- but there can be creativity involved in both.
I still have a lot to do -- final revisions, proofing, and a lot of drudge work (copying/scanning etc). Plus there's my undergrad class -- but that's a familiar prep, so its syllabus just needs some fine-tuning.
No matter when I start thinking about my syllabi, I usually wind up writing them only 1 or 2 days ahead of time. I guess I just need that adrenaline. And I've got it - - I'm feeling pretty pumped up about the semester. What a relief. Last year was such a blur, with tenure review, and various personal events, that I don't think I ever really got that rush. But right now I do -- looking forward to new rhythms, new students.