Procrastination confessions

true-blood-alexander-skarsgard.jpgI have been ‘doing’ a PhD for 3 years now and in that time I have become an expert in the art of procrastination.

I thought you might like it know it is possible to complete (almost) a PhD and also be a master procrastinator. In fact, I think it might be an essential part of my process.

In the beginning, I was nagged by a constant guilt – a feeling that if I spent all the time I wasted on anything but reading and writing, on reading and writing, then I would be so much smarter than I am now; that this PhD would write itself; and that I would actually become the expert I was expected to.

The highlights of this 3 year procrastinationathon include:

  • Watching the first 5 seasons of True Blood, straight through (the other two hadn’t come out yet).
  • Building a deck.
  • Writing a screenplay.
  • Wallpapering the hall.
  • And planning/taking two overseas trips, requiring months of internet research.

Not bad achievements, but the main motivation, in each of these cases, was to avoid writing and reading. And this list does not include all the trips to the movies, the naps, the daytime TV, the lunch breaks I never returned from, etc.

After 3 years, I have come to accept my lack of discipline as my modus operandi, and to work with it rather than against it.

I no longer feel guilty about the time I take off (although I have used a far bit of my LOA to balance that time out). Writing up always seems to take about three times as long as I think it should, but I am on track to finish this year (fingers crossed).

2bb155322b4e07b19837f259cc3f3949At the end of this, I may not be as smart as I hoped I would be, but then a PhD is (probably) not the last thing I will do. It is part of a bigger picture, not the whole picture.

I am now planning a backyard studio. But am holding off on drawing up the plans until after my final chapter is written. I have to draw the line somewhere.

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Best Australian Science Writing 2015 – call for submissions

Newsouth’s anthology, The Best Australian Science Writing, is open for submissions until the 31st March, 2015.

They are “looking for science writing from all corners and dimensions of science; from the big picture to the intimately personal; from scientists and non-scientists; from poetry to prose, and everything in between.”

They are “interested in news stories, features, blogs, opinion pieces, poems, short stories, book chapters and excerpts published since 1 January 2014. Soon-to-be published works will also be considered. Maximum length is 7000 words, but brevity is also appreciated.”

Also, in conjunction with this:

UNSW Press is calling for submission to their Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.

First prize is $7000, and two runners-up each receive $1500. Winning entries will be included in NewSouth’s anthology, The Best Australian Science Writing.

Entries must be non-fiction written for a non-specialist audience by a single author, and have been first published in between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015. Previously unpublished work will not be considered.

Good Luck!

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Feeling the Love?

ALS_coverThe wonderful Inkerman and Blunt are looking for submissions for their next anthology – Australian Love Letters.

One submission per author.

Max 2,500 words (no minimum YAY!)

Hard copy submission only (the old snail mail variety – how romantic!)

Closes 29th May 2015.

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When life hands you lemons…..

images-26One of my supervisors said to me: In the time it takes to do a PhD, statistically, one or more major life events are sure to happen to you – births, deaths, marriages, relationship breakdowns, moving house, etc.

I got the second one. Twice.

So, for the last three months, my PhD has been put on the back burner.

Despite this, the PhD still travels along. Albeit at a slower pace.

I had a paper due the same week my mum died. I managed to get it finished. It was a welcome focus actually. The rest of the time I was wandering around the house like a old mole at a christening (as mum used to say).

My daughter was completing her VCE exams. There was all the end of year activities with the other two. Life was busy. I was distracted.

Four weeks later, I went to a conference in New Zealand. Great conference. My paper did really well. I still felt a bit like I was underwater. Took the kids. Did a few touristy things. Saw Germaine from Flight of the Conchords in the gift-shop at the museum. So, by all accounts, the trip was a great success.

I came home. My mum was still dead. And I fell apart.

But then, I re-drafted the paper, co-wrote a feature length screenplay, applied for teaching work. Got a flash fiction published.

Swings and round-abouts.

Christmas. Then New Year.

I won a prize. And my mother-in-law died. The same day.

It is not just me in all this. I have a husband, children, a sister, her family, my dad, my in-laws, friends. All grieving in their own way. All needing attention.

Before all this, I was finally starting to feel like I would get my PhD finished. This year. My PhD was important. To me. It is more important now. It is a focus. A direction forward. I am worried that when it is finished, I will start grieving all over again. Worse.

It is also less important. More a task to be completed. Less an all-consuming being.

I have a new perspective.

I was reluctant to share all this in such a public forum. But it may just be the most significant part of my PhD journey. It felt wrong to leave it out.

exps40736_CFT1437882D14C When life hands you a bunch of lemons, everything you write, read, touch seems lemon-flavoured. But I am not trying to make lemonade. Because I have a PhD brain, I analyse the lemon. I try to detach. I look at its composition, its effect, its relationships.

It gives new meaning to the word Bittersweet.

I am still very much in the middle of all this, so I don’t know how it will go, but my PhD is about the stories we tell ourselves. About how we make sense of our world. I hope it will help me make sense of all this.

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Check Out The Lifted Brow

Big news over at The Lifted Brow: with a great experimental non-fiction prize and submissions open for their relaunched print magazine editions (fiction and non-fiction).

It is a fantastic opportunity if you have the right kind of piece. Their guidelines are  pretty generous so, if you have something, send it in.

Submissions close 11th January 2015. With any length of fiction accepted (Hell Yeah!).

Good Luck!

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Spineless Wonders – Flash Fiction Competition

The wonderful ladies at Spineless Wonders are calling for submissions for the 2015 Joanne Burns Award. They are looking for pieces under 200 words (YAY!!!!). With the winner bagging a nice cash prize and all worthy entries getting publication in one the only Australian anthologies dedicated to the micro-lit form.

If you haven’t read their past fabulous anthologies, you can find them here.

Entries close 21st December 2014, at the bargain price of $7 per entry.

Good Luck!!!

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Get your writing out there…

Four rejections, so far, and no acceptances…

Starting to feel like a real writer.

For other the creative writers, there are many opportunities for publication – the first step though is to get your work out there. Here is a wonderful list of Opportunities for Writers for October and November 2014, from Aerogramme Writers Studio.

Good luck!

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A little bit of rejection…

3009247448_7d517ab7d0_bI am pretty new to this multiple rejection kind of thing, so it is a little bit painful, and that is only with two rejections, so far.

The rejection letters have been very sweet. Seizure sent a nice one about working your writing muscles. Word Riot said the piece was not right for them but I could try with something else. They are so nicely worded, it makes me wonder if they have different degrees of rejections they send out, from do try again to what the fuck were you thinking, give up, you stink, etc, etc.

Submittable is a new thesis avoiding obsession, as I check it everyday (Ok, several times a day, you never know when it could change), and watch as my stories go from received to in-progress, and then finally declined.

To cheer myself up I did the google thing and found this fabulous post on rejection, which I may read again (and again) whenever necessary. It is a bit daunting to know I have all this rejection ahead of me. Better get on with it I suppose…

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