February 23rd, 2016

(no subject)

I'm teaching essay-writing tonight and have done most of my prep. I just need to get my bag together and get dressed. Why am I not dressed an hour after lunch? That would be because it's 33 degrees outside (or thereabouts) and going to get hotter, so the longer I put off putting on my teaching clothes, the less bedraggled they'll be when I actually teach. Tomorrow will be even hotter, but tomorrow I teach in the morning and it really doesn't matter how bedraggled I look in the afternoon.

Mostly today I've been working on the novel. I'm sorting out the path the novel will take now that I have its deep structure, and my research from here on in will be far more focussed. This is where I needed to be if I am going to finish by the end of the year.

Research for a novel (even a research-intensive one) has a point at which it becomes entirely different to research for scholarly purposes. I have my general understanding, which is the overlap point. From here, instead of asking big question that needs answering, I will be exploring the material I need for the plot. Form here on in, therefore, it's not everyone's 17th century, it's the 17th century that works for my novel. It's all built world from now on. Which is tough on historian friends, for it still looks as if I'm playing in their sandpit and this is the stage that I will have more and more questions, but it's the world of the novel, not the shared world of historical interpretation. And this brings me back to the matter of my book (for it's where I talk about the difference), which will be out within the next two months. I'm hoping that the book makes these two constructs a bit clearer. What I'm finding is that knowing what the difference is saves me a heck of a lot of time and energy in researching the novel. It's still a vast amount of work, but I know what I'm doing more.

I won't be teaching an in-depth version of what to do about this (because the ANU offered it and Canberrans said "no thanks") but with luck I'll have the one day overview at various writers' centres (two of them have expressed an interest). Personally, however, I've benefited hugely from my research. My historian self isn't playing gross interference with the development of this novel. I know what to find out and why. My historian self is handy still, for I can generally go straight to the right places and find what I need.

If I get an academic job (hah!) I want to do more work on story space and genre constructs, because I've only just made a beginning. I'm beginning to doubt there will be a job, though, despite the interviews and the exceptionally positive debriefing I've had from each of them. This market is dire. If I don't get a job, I can't do that research. At least the first section will be out, in book form, and other writers can benefit from my work. But still... so much to study, and for this, income matters.

If anyone wants to tell me to "Do it anyway" I dare them to first live on $15-20k for 18 years. Semi-freelance has wonderful advantages - like working in PJs - but it really makes it tough to do solid scholarly research over the longer term. If it weren't for the ANU and the occasional help of others eg the ACT Government, I wouldn't have even finished the first section of the project. If I get an academic job, then, there will be more exciting research outcomes. If I don't, there won't.

I did say last year that this year was the year I ran out of choices.