Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remember, this is about Freedom.

I know it's a little late in the week for updates, but I made a promise and I'm holding myself accountable (weekly updates). So I'm on a plane to Madison, Wisconsin for a Print Cultures Conference. As I mentioned last week, I may have been a bit over zealous with the scheduling, but I will do my best to be extra attentive to my body now because I have a tendency to live in my head its easy for me to forget self care. I've been known to forget basic things like eating and drinking water. I can go a whole day on a cup of coffee and I only realize I haven't eaten because I begin to feel light headed or headachy. We must take care of our bodies. We must take care of our hearts. We must take care of each other.

If you are feeling overly anxious, depressed, or anything that indicates something is wrong--take a moment to check in with self. Why are you so worried? What are you afraid of? And for a second go there. If the worst thing did occur how would you respond? I'm a big fan of alternative plan making just so that I remember that no matter what there's always a way, even if it wasn't the original plan I mapped out for myself.

And what does this have to do with writing? Everything. Writing is my job, but writing is also my spiritual practice, the first craft I ever fell in love with and I must honor that. Writing in the Academy under pressure can make you forget your love of words and communication. We must keep in mind that at the end of the day many of us will write amazing dissertations and finally walk across stages with our much deserved Harry Potter uniforms; yet, we may not get jobs. So what will you do when all is said and done and you're an unemployed doctor who just spent the last 5-10years working towards  this goal? How will you remain committed to and affirmed in your own brilliance even if you never receive any institutional recognition? Will you be okay? I want you to be okay.

I remind myself that I'm a writer. I'm a writer right now. I was a writer when I was 5. I will continue to be a writer after I get my PhD. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the reasons why we do the things we do because it can get confusing. Am I writing this to impress my committee? Am I writing this because I feel passionate about it? If someone told you your work was unimportant, would you have a breakdown or would you continue to write? There will be haters. Sometimes you might not say the perfect word or write the perfect sentence, but keep writing because it really isn't about the final destination(this might change), it's about the journey. Each time you write you get better. 

For me, sharing my work at conferences or with new friends is when I find myself most present to my pleasure in this work. It's about connection, building and creating together. In the academy we are taught to get it done. No matter the cost. No matter how insane you might feel, get it done! And usually you are alone in some dark place trying to write your way to freedom. Alone.  We are taught to strive to create new fashionable language that displaces the old, but I'm still stuck on freedom. I believe we need new language to "tranifest" our new world, but know it's not the new word, rather it's how the new word enables new possibilities for living in this world (not just our institutions) with joy. If we take just two steps outside our academic silos we will see our names don't mean much-and our new fancy words haven't quite hit the streets yet;) And this is not to say that changing academic discourse within the academy isn't important because it is, but we need to be aware of the bigger project of liberation. 

We must recognize our privilege as scholars (in training). Our work is thinking, dreaming, visioning story-telling, teaching, learning, questioning...Yes, it is a challenge, but we are privileged and we must honor that and keep our minds set on changing the world. That is what we want (and if you don't know what I'm talking about read this again at a later date;) The kind of world that I want to live in will not sustain our ego trippin' or the reproduction of trauma (passed down from one scarred professor, to grad student(future professor), to student). A shift in the structures of power doesn't simply effect cis gender white men--we all have to change and become anew. 

On that note...I'll end this update by saying that writing is going slowly but going. I'm experiencing a lot of interruptions with publication deadlines, conferences, and fellowship applications, but I know that it is all going to come together. I have a community that supports and challenges me. We have the power to make it happen and we have a responsibility to change the conditions so that our future scholars know that this work is not about one great wo/man's genius--it's about collectively building  a new university where race, gender, class, and sexuality aren't simply the courses you take to fulfill your diversity requirement. I envison a new university accessible to all, a univesity that won't require indebted souls (student loan debt) in exchange for the right to produce knowledge (that don't even sound right...wait, it's not;). 

Let's go people! Get your write on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Doing too much?

So writing has been okay, just okay. I am trying to manage writing while also still collecting interviews and archival research and sometimes it seems like I'm being pulled in too many directions. Or perhaps I'm not sure of the direction yet and with every new story I uncover, my major story changes a little. How do you manage research and writing? Do you set aside time for both everyday? 

Another issue that I have been struggling with is that I have committed to too many conferences. Events that when I signed up for them, I thought great this will give me a hard deadline to have something ready. This can be a good way to motivate oneself, but only in moderation. I'm getting ready for October and every weekend I am presenting somewhere (mostly places that require a lot of travel). When October is done I will have to spend a good amount of time completing dissertation fellowship applications. What I am learning is that sometimes I sign up for too many things (boundaries, important skill to have). I believe they will all be beneficial in someway of course, but this does take away from concentrated writing time.

Strategies I learned this week: No Facebook until I have completed a good portion of work.

On a scale of 1-10 I'd give myself a satisfactory this week. I definitely need to spend more time writing, but I also have to reconcile the need to do more research. I had a really great interview this week and I'm looking forward to spending the next couple of days in the archive.

It takes time to figure it all out. Be patient with yourself, but do not coddle. Push yourself, but do not hound. Find balance and find it again. 

Wishing everyone a great writing week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Try. Try. And Try Again...

I didn’t have the best writing week, though I did accomplish some important things like handing in my final revisions for an article that I’m really excited about. I didn’t do my two pages everyday mostly because I was having a hard time finding the words. When you sit at the computer and nothing comes to you, what do you do? What are your strategies? 
A strategy that worked for me (when I tried it) was to change my scenery--I have created a great work space in my house, but I realize that sometimes I need change. I went to the library a couple of times this week and I was really productive in that setting. Another thing that helps me is a study buddy. I really don't like the loneliness of writing sometimes, it really helps me to be around others who are also writing. Sometimes it's helpful to check in with your study buddy before you write and share your goals for the session--it's helps me to be accountable when I either write my goals down or speak them aloud to someone else. Though this week wasn’t the best for writing I’m looking forward to trying it again this week. Instead of beating myself up, I’ll just try, try, and try again. I hope you all have a great writing week!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Weekly Update:

I am happy to report back that I have been writing daily, at least two pages(weekdays). I started running again at the end of July--I don't really like running, but I like the way I feel after running. I keep a running journal that keeps track of when I run, how long the run last, and a whole lot of other things. I get pleasure from knowing and seeing my running history documented in my running journal/calender. I'm thinking of getting stickers for myself for a writing calender, a sticker for each day of writing. What kind of incentives do you give yourself? Writing and running are similar acts to me, I have to build endurance as a writer in the same way that I do as a runner. It's about creating a lifestyle change so that writing isn't something to be done just in time for a deadline, but something that is integrated into my daily life. I make room for moments when the writing is hard and I have to push myself. I also make room for the moments when it all seems to come together in a divine way--when the words flow easily and it all aligns. As I continue to write daily I am starting to feel a longing for my writing area--I want to write!  Now that's  a good feeling.


I have a hard time with revision. What is your re-visioning process? My approach to revision has usually been to start over, but this makes me feel as though I never really get a chance to trace the history of how my ideas grow, expand and change.

Do you have any helpful tips? Please share.