Mary Celeste zones

>The very civilised corridors and cafes of the university mean only one thing: mid-semester break. I love down-time at universities. The air feels less frantic. There are no queues. All the books are in at the library. Parking is a breeze. The slightly frustrating thing is that very few people are getting back to me about things – seeing as they are variously off on holiday, conference-ing, or taking the chance to catch up on their own research – and a few projects/activities have slowed to a crawl.

Over the next couple of months, I’ve got to finish a commissioned research report, a book chapter and journal article, gear up the AASRN for full operation (including yet another mailing list and ‘retirement’ of old one), and tie up assorted loose ends before I take maternity leave in mid-December. I’ll be missing in action from mid-Dec till mid-June. It feels very strange to contemplate not being on campus for that long (not that it’s an entirely unpleasant thought). I’m also planning to attend the “Historicising Whiteness” conference (Melb, 22-24 Nov 2006) and re-nominate for the InASA committee. My list-moderating roles I’ve farmed out to some lovely, enthusiastic folk (thanks, IW and SC!), and ditto for my cluster convening role in the AASRN (shout out here to the new uber-aca, JTK…just kidding. We know you’re not a new uber-aca).

As for my editorial duties with the Journal of Intercultural Studies (JICS): I’m depending on our fab Associate Editor and the other Eds to cover the gap. I’m really pleased with the way JICS has grown since we took over as the editorial team. These publications always take a few years to turn around to our way of doing things. From next year onward, it should be a more cohesive and targeted journal, one that has a clear agenda for the kinds of material in which its interested. Hopefully, we’ll also get a chance to follow up on promising leads for material. With everyone so busy, this is always the kind of thing that tends to fall by the wayside, but it’s such an important part of keeping the journal content clicking over in a satisfactory way. As a working group, we’re ironing out process kinks as we go along.


On another front, I’ve contributed a piece to the second issue of Peril (theme: Heroes; out soon – will announce here) that involved sending around a short survey to various people. I had a great time writing it. I’d forgotten how much fun writing can be when one isn’t being tortured by gloomy forests of theoretical jargon and formal academic writing constraints. I’ve occasionally been gleeful about how easily the writing flowed and shared this with buddies who are writers themselves. Most of them understand what I mean about the contrast between aca writing and op-ed, magazine or fiction writing. A select few have chosen to take exception to my glee. They read it as a sign that I’m denigrating how ‘hard’ fiction writing can be; that is, I’m setting up a binary between ‘hard’ academic prose (serious, worthy, objectively important) and ‘soft’ fiction writing (subjectively valued, self-indulgent, anyone can do it). This is not my intention at all, of course, and I find it interesting that folks might want to read my (off-the-cuff and perhaps even ditzy) comments as such.

Writing is my thing. Most often these days, the outlet is academic: books, articles and book chapters, reviews, referee’s reports for theses/people/articles, introductions to scholarly collections, online discussions about cultural politics and other aca issues. The ‘lightest’ writing I’d do is this blog, and the rambly scrawling that is my hardcopy journal (so old-school). I still try my hand at fiction every once in a while but, being deadline-less, these projects tend not to get very far. I managed to get to the start of Chapter Eight on a novel once: a horror-romance. I had the best time writing it. It was unashamedly genre fic that allowed me to play with my predeliction for monster motifs and a tasteful smattering of gore. It lost momentum around the eighth chapter because that’s when narrative inconsistencies started to plague the story, and I’d intended to do a thorough re-write before finishing it off. The rest is history. The draft sits in my writing cupboard, bull-dog clipped and edited to within an inch of its life (red and green pen everywhere), but with nothing done with it since about 2003. This novel was something I started because I wanted to be able to say that I’d finished writing a (fiction) book. I even fantasised about shopping it around a few of the major presses, to the extent that I had a look over their submission guidelines and processes. One day. I’ll get back to it one day…

I’ve written fanfiction under the influence of a close friend and, while that was fun, I doubt if it’s where I’ll devote too much of my time. That said, learning about the intricate courtesies of fandom and fanfic writing was a total buzz. I’ve also contributed bits and pieces to a few zines (i.e. Alien Invader, I Can’t Use Chopsticks) and am currently involved with the online AA mag, Peril. I’ve been meaning to archive my zine contributions on this blog but have yet to remember where I filed the pieces of writing (or the zines themselves!) during various house and interstate moves.

Most well-hidden fiction writing skeleton (till now)?

I wrote a romance short story way back when (late 1980s) to try and win some dosh. I got a Highly Commended note and bottle of “Poison” perfume.

Oh, the dizzy heights of success.


4 thoughts on “Mary Celeste zones

  1. OTT 28/09/2006 / 1:46 am

    >What a wonderful life academia sounds :-)(I am being a little cheeky – my partner is in academe, so I do know how difficult the life really is…)Writing also is my life. Well, weeekdays 0800ish to 1900ish is dictating very boring letters, less boring advices and rather frightening submissions. I wish I wrote more fiction – half started pieces languish inside my computer, ranty / real-life-esque pieces make it onto my blog and a (very) few have made it to writing competitions. Lots more have been written in contemplation of submitting it to um er something. I don’t think I’ve even gone as far as looking at submission guidelines!Gah! Why can’t i write a *brief* comment?have a great maternity leave – hope you keep updating 🙂

  2. Galaxy 28/09/2006 / 2:43 am

    >The question is, do you still have a copy of the Poison winning Romance story? Will you post it here?

  3. Tseen 28/09/2006 / 3:28 am

    >Hi OanhAcademia can be a very sweet life and I’m in dream job so shouldn’t complain (though, as you can see, doesn’t always stop me!).I always find it really interesting how many people write fiction as a hobby (ie. it’s something they dabble in but don’t really attend to it in a regular, dedicated way). I do think writing is a craft, etc, and I know that my engagement with it on that level is superficial at best.I’m hoping to update through that time, too. The fact that it’s a totally unknown quantity and I’ve got no idea how things will go with juggling bub and everything else? It’s bothering me a lot less than I’d’ve thought! :)Tseen——————Hiya K.Ummmm….I might still have a copy. Found it during one of the house-moves.Will it ever appear here? In the nicest possible way: No way, no how!Tseen

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