So.. the development officer at Mills Archive is keen to expand their internet presence by making their blog more active and keeping their social media accounts active.
As such she has asked me to write a few pieces and ideally to do so regularly.
Two thoughts occur to me: 1st – What on earth should I write about & 2nd – will this get me back into the habit of researching and writing regularly albeit in short bursts.
1: Broadly speaking I mostly input the details of books onto a pre-written form and then put the books onto shelves. I enjoy it but there is a limit to how exciting you can make it sound. Similarly, although I have been working on creating a classification system I don’t have any idea whether anyone else is interested in why I think some books should be considered similar to others – though I think at some point I will try and explain it…
This means that I need to come up with something else about the library that interests me and deserves a mention and that means looking at it from the perspective of ‘collections’. Two types of collection seem to be key – books donated by particular Mill experts (especially those that are legacies connected to archival collections) and books focused around particular specialist topics – so my next step is to pick 2 or 3 of these to write about and then do a little research around the topic.
2: For various reasons I have not been able to concentrate on writing for a while and I think my brain is turning to mush. Producing short (c.500-800 word) summaries on some things I know very little about has got to be good for my self-discipline right?
The plan is to combine writing 1 blog post a fortnight with reading 3 academic (peer-reviewed and within my research fields) journal articles and writing notes on them in the same time-period. Hopefully, this will get me back to thinking in a more academic mode and therefore able to write some of my research ideas down in something that looks more like a coherent paper itself…
I’ve been keeping you hanging on again, but um… tough. Sorry to fail miserably but I’ve been working hard at the job that buys the food and I’ve been suffering with a lot of pain and the ongoing fight with my depression.
Still its a new year and I have plans.
Blog – 3 more SFF posts (1 on the final panel, 1 on some theoretical issues incl. Nick Lowe’s plenary & 1 on the panel I was in and my thoughts & plans…). Furthermore I will write at least once a fortnight.
Job… I have applied for a couple of things this year so far and I am determined that I will end the year doing something different to now
Publishing – 2 articles that I started last year will be submitted! Partly I need to get over the perfectionism that keeps me re-editing but also I need to be brave enough to approach people to give me advice.
So I have turned 30 and been on holiday since the secondary schools started their new term but I haven’t “achieved” very much.
Non-academic work and the effort required to manage that, my shoulder problems, mental health and sleeping patterns, as well as attempts to look into new jobs have left me exhausted and deflated.
On the other hand a kind prod to write a paper for the Institute of Classical Studies Early Career Researchers Seminar series has re-kindled my research work and a new physio programme is helping towards a pain management regime.
Next steps include: finding someone to advise me on my Phoenicians article; writing the ICS paper; re-writing my CA paper as an article (and getting some advice on that); working on the possible business plan; changing pill intake; oh and, finishing my write up of SFF….
Just to be clear I enjoyed this year’s Classical Association Conference – this post is not about why the conference is a terrible thing. It is also not about why am sad that it is all over for me for another year (though I am) – actually I want to explain my experience of the conference and why that makes me sad.
This year was my 4th CA conference, my 3rd as a speaker and my 2nd in Reading. It was a surprisingly different experience for me and yet evoked some clear memories of conferences past.
Firstly, I think I am getting better as a speaker. I stutter less and maintain more momentum although I still have a tendency to ramble on and try to fit too much in. Despite all the recommendations for ad libbing/memorising a presentation, I have to acknowledge that I am more coherent with a script and make more of my points clearly. Need to master not finishing up the notes the night before though (which I did last year too).
Secondly, I feel more like I am able to engage and interact on an intellectual level with the papers. Partly, this is the confidence of having my PhD (in all but certificate) and therefore feeling like less of a fraud and partly it is because now I am not focusing on my doctorate I am more able to see ways that all sorts of topics can feed into potential research (and aren’t just merely interesting concepts). I feel more like I have done some of this stuff but also that I could use it.
Thirdly, I am getting a little better at talking to people. Not a lot better- I still stand around like a lost sheep looking at faces I recognise but who wouldn’t know me from Eve desparately hunting for an opening comment, I still don’t have the nerve to include myself in existing conversations or to sit down next to people. On the other hand I directly engaged in several discussions without the aid of alcohol and only had one meltdown. In some ways this was rather helped by the fact that due to my work commitments I could not/did not have to spend lengthy evenings milling around which allowed for less time feeling awkward.
That brings me to my key personal issue.. I had to work. Well, I guess technically I could have taken the week off, but since I wasn’t funded and want to go to another conference later in the year that would have been a very expensive choice. Like the first CA conference I ever went to (also in Reading) whilst I was doing my MA I dashed back and forth between campus and the pub where I work brain buzzing with thoughts. Unlike the previous one, where as a student helper I often found myself doing photocopying or stranded at a desk, I was able to attend nearly all the sessions (although I only managed 1 keynote) and even to cherry-pick the speakers I wanted to hear.
It was physically and mentally exhausting and yet it focused my mind and forced me to make choices. It stopped me from networking effectively but it made me feel more positive about the connections I did make.
So why a lament?
Two reasons: firstly, without a full-time job and generally outside of academia, despite the fact I finally feel like I am getting the hang of this conference malarky this may well be the last CA I can justify going to; secondly, I have realised just how much I have missed out on by being on the fringes..