So, I’d listened to the first two episodes of ‘The Writer and the Critic’ (aka Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond sharing news, opinions and reviews about mostly-speculative-fiction books) and then in the madness of finishing the PhD of Doom I apparently forgot about anything that wasn’t directly related to medieval Icelandic literature.
Going to Swancon last week and attending a great session about podcasts (with Kirstyn, Helen Merrick and Jonathan Strahan) reminded me how many awesome Aussie podcasts there are at the moment! As soon as I got back home I had a little look-see on iTunes, downloaded the remaining W&tC episodes that I’d missed (and, Kirstyn, your “Hello future people” comments were eerily accurate!), along with a bunch of Galactic Suburbia shows, some Coode Street episodes with Jonathan Strahan and Gary Wolfe, and Helen and Tama’s Pangalactic Interwebs. It is a teensy bit weird listening to them out of sequence, and listening to the news updates after the fact – but, all in all, I am SO HAPPY these creative and intelligent people are casting such amazing pods for our edjamucation! Kirstyn & Ian make me laugh out loud – so much so that I had to stop listening to them while at work because I was giggling like a loonie at my desk – and I’ve now got so many novel recommendations from GS that I fear my poor bedside table is going to collapse under the weight of all the new books I have to get. (Yes, *have* to get.)
Three cheers for great specfic discussions!
2) Being PhD free (aka Getting My Life Back)
Sure, I still have to officially submit the thesis for examination. But as far as I’m concerned, the writing – the hard slog, the tears, the agony – is finished. Which means, of course, that all that time I previously devoted to researching, thinking, agonising, and eventually writing the thesis can now be dedicated to other, much more enjoyable things. Like reading! In anticipation of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series, I’ve been re-reading George R.R. Martin’s series, and it’s a joy to just read something for fun! I also stocked up on Aussie independent press books while in Perth, and am now working my way through Dead Red Heart, Scenes from the Second Storey, More Scary Kisses and also the first two books in the Twelve Planets series. Well, I started that one with the second book, I admit: Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Love and Romanpunk accompanied me on the plane home from the convention, and it was delightful! I can’t wait to read Sue Isle’s book (#1 in the series), which is currently top of the teetering pile of books on the abovementioned overloaded bedside table. I’m also reading a fabulous collection of short stories (not speculative fiction) by Simon van Booy called Love Begins in Winter; I’m only one story in but already there have been some devastatingly beautiful phrases that have made me sigh with happiness (unlike the sighs of angst, woe, and omgihatemythesis that accompanied the reading I was doing earlier this year for research purposes…) Being sans PhD has also opened up waaaaaaaaaay more time for me to hide away in:
3) The Writing Oubliette
As I mentioned in my post-Swancon post, Angela and I have started working on Midnight and Moonshine, our joint collection. We are really excited about this book and, at some point in the near future, we intend to do some joint blog posts about the collaborative experience of writing short stories… But for now, I just want to revel in the fact that I actually have a bit of time to dedicate to this project, and working on it doesn’t make me feel guilty about procrastinating because there ain’t no more stooopid thesis to drag me down! Obviously I’m still getting accustomed to this – it still doesn’t seem entirely real that I really, really, really do have some time now – and so I have to keep saying it aloud (or, in writing, as the case may be) to convince myself that it’s true.
I also have to get used to writing like a writer again, instead of writing like an academic. This wasn’t a problem for me while I was in the “I’ll be done the thesis one day” stage; for the past two years I’ve been writing and publishing stories and working on drafts of my thesis chapters without one feeding too much into the other. But since January – the month in which I did nothing (nothing) but work on the thesis – I’ve been so focused on finishing this massive research project that any time I went to work on a story the prose sounded like a research paper. (Ask Brain: she’ll vouch for this fact. Dry, dry, dry!) I was still getting loads of fun ideas for short stories, but my brain was in a completely different space in terms of making these ideas into stories. And, to be honest, since it has taken me until, well, now to finally get rid of the research I have only recently been able to start writing like a writer again.
So starting to work on ‘Wyrmwood’, which is going to appear about halfway through Midnight and Moonshine, has been an excellent way to get my story-writer head back on straight.
The words are back!
The author sighs in relief.