Two days ago I couldn’t resist having a coffee at 6pm because I have this thing called an aeropress and it makes the best coffee I’ve ever had and then I couldn’t sleep and then I sat up and wrote a post about Amanda Palmer and Philip Seymour Hoffman and how it feels to ask for help. It was also a post where I got vulnerable. I told you a very small portion of my past. I talked about begging on the street, and how that felt. And then I went on to ask for your support to get me to Portugal so that I can read my work at a conference there in May.
And now I am crying.
I am crying because within 24 hours of writing that post, and Amanda Palmer retweeting it, I had hit my target. And yesterday I exceeded it.
I am crying because now I have enough for travel insurance and if the pledges keep coming in the funds will cover transfers and meals as well, and pozible have featured my project, so that will probably happen.
I am crying because sixteen years ago I was a twenty something on a street corner asking for money so that I could disappear just a little bit more, and this year I will be forty, and I’m doing way more than surviving: I’m living the biggest, bravest, most amazing life I can.
So. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I was lucky enough to attend a seminar for Early Career Researchers (ECRS) put on by the NTEU a couple of weeks ago. I went because I’m nearing the end of my first year, and I needed to get my head around the new ERA system. Not sure what I’m talking about? Megan McPherson’s kindly storified it for you.
As the workshop progressed, I became increasingly disheartened. Here are the thoughts that were running about in my head:
- Am in insane to think I can get a full time job in academia after completion?
- Am I destined to be a sessional teacher and never actually get anywhere?
- What’s a poem worth?
- How do we get academia to move out of machine mode and recognise, with respect and gratitude, the value of creative work that is produced within it?
I tweeted my misery, and luckily the thesis whisperer (as usual) and John Lamp came to my rescue. I can’t tell you exactly what pearls of wisdom Inger had, but they had the same effect as having a bowl of warm porridge drizzled with honey on a cold winter’s morning placed before me. Suddenly, it seemed there was cause for optimism. For harnessing Twitter and Facebook and especially for the value of self publishing on academic blogs.
John Lamp got up then and spoke about altmetrics, about finding ratings that make you sound good and unashamedly using them, about getting work out there however you can–create your own journals and invite all of your friends to read them, be broadminded about what’s valuable. We are in a new world.
Then John said this: it’s not publish or perish anymore, it’s get visible or vanish.
So, little blog, here’s what I think: writing this post is deeply valuable. Writing this post is a way of throwing my voice, and watching it echo, and trusting that people can hear.
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I’m not sure if it’s because I’m writing so much on my thesis that I have nothing left for my blog, but needless to say it’s been a while. I read somewhere that most new bloggers stop posting after about three months, and I was determined not to be one of those. So here’s my first post for the new year – a list. Part of why I write phd with kids is to create a small community of thesis writing parents who can support each other by sharing what works (and what doesn’t). The other part is harder to describe, but has something to do with connection, with me talking to you, and with the writing rest that blogging provides.
So here’s a list of what’s working for me (for a much more prosaic and beautiful list, check out Henry Miller’s work schedule from 1932-33). I spent much of my first six part-time months wandering in circles, learning Endnote and Scrivener, getting to know my faculty librarian, and working on publications. I now have a short story called ‘Dose’ in Polari Journal, a poem called ‘The Second Cup’ in a Melbourne Poets Union anthology titled “The Attitude of Cups”, and a critical essay coming up. But still I had the sense of having done very little. Except that when I started full-time (which for me is three child free days a week) on the first of January this year all that circling turned out was actually foundation building, and I was off. I’m not saying I’ll always be on such a productivity splurge, but right now the words are flowing, the reading makes sense, and I’m loving my life. Here’s my list (please feel free to add to it in the comments):
- If I’m at my desk (and ready to go) at 9am then I have a good start to the day.
- Writing for an hour without a break on each of my work mornings means I can spend the rest of the day reading, researching, editing, and rewriting. I got this idea from attending a seminar titled “The seven secrets of highly successful research students”. The chirpy self-help, you-can-do-it title meant I approached with extreme caution, but thanks to this particular technique I have nearly 12,000 words.
- Working from home results in about thirty percent less productivity, and a gazillion more cups of tea.
- Scrivener rocks. Seriously. If you don’t know what it is and you’re a writer (and even if you’re not), find out. The Thesis Whisperer will tell you why.
- Getting to know my Faculty Librarian has been brilliant. Not only has she helped me work out which databases to search, how to set up alerts, and explained the mysteries of Endnote to me, but she’s a friendly face, and once she got twenty books off the shelves for me because I couldn’t get any child free time in the library.
- Saying I’m going to work is the best way to describe what I’m doing. It means I only take a day off if I’m genuinely sick. It means I have a lunch break, but the rest of the time I stay at my desk. It also means that my loved ones and friends treat me like I’m working too.
- Being paid to write and read and think is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me (after my kids).
Posted in Academia, PhD, Writing
Tagged academia, Arts, blogging, Endnote, kids, librarian, melbourne poets union, polari journal, Scholarship, Scrivener, Thesis, Writing