Honours and Absence and New Publications

Hi there. It’s been a while. Yeah, I know. I’ve been busy.

Right now I’m eight weeks into my first semester of creative writing honours. What that means is that I’ve got two classes where I’ve got to write a bunch of essays to display the current stages of my research to prove that I’ll be able to sustain my studies for another semester. When I was going into this, people who were in the process of doing honours or had completed honours in the recent past had told me that it was tough and stressful.

And it is. Between honours, three days a week at work, and editing my novella that’s currently slated for a November release, it feels like I spend long periods of time vanishing off the face of the planet.

But I’ll be done with the first semester in a bit over a month, and in a bit over two months I’ll be on holidays and celebrating the launch of my first book.
Right now I’m caught up in all this hard work, reading and analysing essays so I can write my own and link it back to my research topic. I’ve got a massive amount of editing to do to get the next draft of my novella complete in time. I should be ordering take out every night and not leaving the house ever.

I’m not the best when it comes to organisation skills, and I’m not that great with time management.

But this is how I see it: I’m studying creative writing. My thesis is on Bizarro Gothic fiction and popular culture. Yes, it’s tough and stressful. But it’s what I love doing. I enjoy this shit. At times it rubs me the wrong way and almost drives me insane, but it’s awesome. And I’m so glad I’m doing it. With the results I’ve seen so far, I’m on track for a first-class honours, which could mean I’d be eligible for a PhD scholarship at the end of my honours.

And even if I don’t, I’ll still be taking things in baby steps to get through this semester, to get that editing done, to make it to the end of the year with a book in one hand and the makings of a thesis in the other.

By the end of next semester, I’ll have a 5,000 word essay and a 10,000 word story comprising a two-part thesis. And that’s probably going to be tough and stressful too. But I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t really enjoy it. These past four years at uni have been amazing, and these past couple of years reading/writing/studying Bizarro fiction have been awesome. And I think where I am three months from now to nine months to a year from now depends on the fact that I’ll keep enjoying this and making sure in those instances where I’m not, I’m taking the baby steps and making sure to enjoy other aspects of my life.

These past eight weeks of semester have been real busy, but I feel like I’ve accomplished more now than I have in all my years prior. I’ve got a book review in a print magazine here and a short story and poem in an anthology here. And some dude from Poland contacted me a little while ago about translating an essay of mine into Polish for his Polish Bizarro website.

And when I talk to people about my writing and my studies, they always ask me where it’s going to take me. I’m reaching a point where the answers are becoming less varied, but the options are becoming more refined. If I get my first-class honours, there’s a good chance I’ll go for that PhD and take my studies in contemporary genre fiction to the next level. To put things simply, I’m fascinated with hybrid sci-fi and fantasy genres at the moment. They’re constantly evolving and mutating, and I’d love to expand on my current studies to really pick apart why these changes are happening. I’ve got that novella coming out, which probably won’t be the gateway to an illustrious career where I earn enough from writing to live off writing. No, that’s just an added bonus. I guess the ultimate goal would be to edit and/or publish the sort of fiction I like. That’s a long term goal, I think. Either that or eventually teaching fiction or literary/cultural studies at uni, would be cool too.

But still, when people ask me what I’m going to do after uni, the immediate response is uncertainty. Because I don’t know. I’m too busy working through the tough, stressful coursework to map out exactly where I’m going to go once I’m done. But I think that’s half the fun, not knowing. Having the options to choose different things and try different things and figure things out through hard work and experience.

To some people it’s not really worth it if you don’t have a set career path, a stable job/income at the end of your studies. Yes, you need money to survive, but don’t make that your governing principle for why you do what you do. What’s the point of work if you’re earning the big dollars and you’re incapable of enjoying yourself? That’s the mind frame I’m coming from when people (most commonly engineers with no sense of culture) scoff at the fact that I’ve got an arts degree.


3 thoughts on “Honours and Absence and New Publications

Add yours

  1. Great piece, Shane! I think you will go far with your writing, so don’t worry about that! I will read this whenever I feel lost and disillusioned about why I’m doing Honours, and what I’m supposed to be doing after it. I think both answers lie somewhere with happiness 🙂

  2. Writing is an an under appreciated art because of the common conception that everyone can write, and most people don’t do it for a wage. What goes under appreciated is just how hard it is to write well. I take it as a compliment; we do it so well it looks natural and easy!

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