Ok so it’s clear I’m a pretty crap blogger. Inconsistent. Up and down. Rarely regular. But I’m sticking at it. And right now I’m on my way to read my work in Lisbon because I won an award that wasn’t quite enough to get me there and a bunch of people jumped on board to help me get the rest of the way. So I’m going to blog Lisbon. Probably in very short posts.
6am in London. Heathrow is mist full and quiet. The French woman at the coffee shop suitably disdainful. Portly men in purple jackets guarding doorways and trying to look cheerful and authoritative at the same time. The quiet elation of putting your feet down in Spring, having come from Autumn.
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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
Ok, it’s true – I’ve been avoiding my blog. Posting nearly every day through the writers festival did me in. Not just the posting, but the extreme levels of organisation it took to get there to be able to blog about it in the first place.
So the festival is over, and Sparrow and I have been at sleep school (again). This time I’m feeling more hopeful – he slept 11 hours last night. But like Ann Patchett in her new novel State of Wonder writes, hope is like a fish hook. It drags and pulls. I’m fighting a hope war (very quietly on the couch). I’m reading the book because I got brave and introduced myself to Jason Steger whilst at the festival and (gulp) asked him if I could send him some of my writing. He asked for a review so I’m trying to get the novel read at slightly faster than a snails pace before he forgets me completely.
The thing that has sent me back to my blog is Mums Lounge. All the way back in May, when I wrote my first few posts and put them on Facebook, Jolene from Mums Lounge found me and asked if I could write a post to be featured on her website which is a mix of shopping, forums, advice, and a selection of blogs. There’s a piece of mine up there this weekend about me and Monkey getting henna tattoos in Coburg – head on over if you feel like a read .
I’m just going to keep putting stuff out there. I’ll write this review. I’ve submitted three poems to the Australian Poetry Members Anthology. I sent my post on Emily Rodda to Melbourne’s Child (and didn’t hear a thing). I will continue to behave as if my writing is good and worth sending out, I will breathe, and honour the words that come unbidden in the night, and trite as it sounds, I will hope.
Posted in Children, Night, Poetry, Writing
Tagged Ann Patchett, blogging, Coburg, Facebook, hope, Jason Steger, Jennifer Rowe, submissions, Writing
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The Melbourne Writer’s Festival has selected me as one of their five ‘UNbloggers’. I’m a bit in awe I have to say, being such a brand new blogger and all. My first response was excitement, and my next was more along the lines of what-was-I-thinking-I-can’t-take-an-8-month-old-baby-to-a-writer’s-festival. But I’ve just decided that I can, and that it’ll be ok. There’s plenty of couches scattered in that big undercover bit at Fed Square (perfect for breastfeeding), there’ll be a change table somewhere, and Sparrow will magically sleep through each of the minimum ten sessions I attend. Ah. Sleep.
I’m guessing that writers and audience alike may not feel particularly warm to either a crying, squirming, squealing, or singing baby. I wouldn’t have been, pre-baby. Note to self: paranoia and doing other people’s thinking for them whilst attending the festival will not be conducive to the kind of relaxed and inquiring state of mind I’d like to cultivate. More notes to self: everyone there was a baby who interrupted a grownup at some point. Sometimes childcare is a hard thing to get and babies need to travel with their Mamas. Sparrow might magically sleep through the sessions (yeah right). Even if every post ends up saying something like “the first five minutes of this session was amazing, and then I had to leave because…” that’s ok.
I’ve downloaded the app and made a must see list. It’s twenty-one sessions long, and that’s only because I couldn’t include anything after dark (Sparrow’s not so crash hot at going to sleep for the night without me).
Essential items (please feel free to add to this list in the comments): pram, ergo, cruskits, pear slices, blanket, quiet toys, food and water for me, all the other stuff that goes in a nappy bag, laptop, iPhone so I can dictate my posts as I think of them in case I can’t type, pen and paper for old school moments, a brave face, and the serenity prayer. No I’m not religious, but the serenity prayer is gold.
Posted in Children, MWF, Writing
Tagged baby, blogging, breastfeeding, Children, Infant, iphone, Melbourne, MWF, prayer, Sleep, Writing