I felt a bit of a fraud writing the last post about work on my fiction and, for this one, I feel even more so.
After the household illnesses came the catching up, then the realisation that I’d possibly over-committed myself on the writing front. I used to over-commit myself on the academic front all the time, saying yes to committee work, events organisation, joining associations and doing project things. It felt good to be collaborating with a broad network of people, doing different types of work. That’s how I thought of the amount of stuff I said ‘yes’ to, anyway.
While shedding academic commitments, I’ve filled the space with writing and blogging ones, including a bunch of promised guest blogposts and other short pieces and interviews.
In addition, I’ve also racked up a truck-load more screen-time watching various TV series that seem to steal me (happily) away for way too much time. Luckily, shows like Sherlock and Walking Dead have a finite number of episodes for now. On a retro note, we’ve just started watching Firefly (yes, about 10 years after it came out) and we’re lovin’ it.
I was talking to people recently about whether I should apply for what seemed to be a plum job (which would put me back in academia), and I realised how enamoured I was with my current work/life balance, the ability to turn my hand to anything I chose, and freedom to spend my evenings/weekends as I see fit (guilt-free). I had never been guilt-free as an academic. Ever. Being in a continuing job, with regular hours (and no expectations for anything but), has enabled me to breathe easily for the first time in many, many years. As I’ve said to others, it’s like the boiling frog syndrome: I never knew how generally anxious and self-flagellating I was…until I wasn’t. One year down the track, I’m still reveling in it.
So, yes, over-committed with the writing recently, and it has been productive and satisfying. Besides weekly posts for this and the Research Whisperer blog, I’ve also written:
1. A guest-post for Rellypops, which will be published in a couple of weeks, and
2. A guest-post for Right Now for their focus on ‘Race and Discrimination’ in March – you can read it here: Validation and Solidarity. Many thanks to John Alizzi for the opportunity to write for Right Now. It’s a very interesting publication, with great things to say, so check out the other pieces in there, too. A bit about Right Now from the website:
Right Now is a volunteer, not-for-profit media organisation led by young people focused on human rights issues in Australia. We are committed to covering human rights issues through free, accessible, creative and engaging online, print and radio media. Our work begins with the belief that creating a positive, rights-respecting culture in Australia begins with the flow of information.
After settling on the couch to work on the novel last night, I was waylaid by the watching of another couple of episodes of Firefly. Bad form.
I have, however, had moments of plot clarity and development in the midst of everyday stuff. Moments that had me running for materials to write down the ideas before they faded. The novel is a happy, constant weight that stretches usefully on my mind.
I’ve also realised, from recent conversations, that it is a part of my life that I would regret having to ‘give up’. More fully embracing writing as ‘me’, rather than within the constraints of ‘academese’, has made a huge difference to how I think of the process.