The last few months have been, even for me, hectic. Usually, I make sure to carve out time to update this blog, keep my CV in order, and so on and so forth.
Since December or so, that’s all gone out the window. A combination of conference travel, job applications (and interviews and negotiations), several weddings across the continent, and a major grant for the Mellon foundation has not only kept me off the blogosphere, but also taken its toll on my academic writing (read: my dissertation), and my bank account.
A quick accounting:
January – MLA 2014 in Chicago, where I organized a panel of six graduate students on New Models for the Dissertation. It was well received, and even led to some press for some of our participants in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s hipper, more well-designed sister site Vitae. I managed to, amid the din and chaos, interview some folks for an ongoing research project looking into digital collaborations and community engagement.
February – INKE in Whistler, British Columbia. One of two yearly gatherings, this one centred on the future of scholarly publishing and featured an absolutely wonderful group of participants theorizing what the next few decades of academic publication might look like. I presented on the Renaissance Knowledge Network, an integrated research, analysis, and publication environment that we are currently laying the groundwork for in the ETCL. Leadership from Iter and the Advanced Research Consortium also had the chance to sit down with us to strategize next steps for the grant to start work on ReKN.
March – Digital Humanities Australasia 2014 in Perth, Australia, preceded by over a week of meetings, consultations, invited lectures, and general academic networking in Sydney, Australia. In Sydney, I presented on Digital Humanities Spaces and Microclimates, with particular attention paid to libraries, centres, and so on, as well as meeting with a variety of folks at the University of Western Sydney (my hosts & sponsors), the University of Sydney, and the University of Technology, Sydney. In Perth, I presented on regional networks of digital scholarship, with a particular emphasis on the Pacific Northwest. At the same conference, I participated in a debate on the necessity of literary visualizations pace Moretti, and give my 18 cents on a panel/workshop devoted to #altac careers. This was an amazing time, but draining.
April – Literally 24 hours after returning from Australia, via Hong Kong, my partner and I left for South Carolina for two weddings, one of which I helmed as best man to a dear old friend. We got back to British Columbia last week, on 8 April.
Throughout that, I’ve managed to revise a collaboratively written article that is about a year behind schedule, revise a course proposal for DHSI 2015 with Melissa Dalgleish, apply for an academic position at King’s College London, interview for that job, undertake multiple revisions to a major grant with the Andrew Mellon Foundation, serve as graduate representation on the Hiring Committee for a new departmental chair in English, attend a half dozen meetings of our university wide graduate student society, organize a panel for our university on current research in digital literary studies, and even, believe it or not, write some of my dissertation.
And in June, my partner and I move to London for me to take up a position at King’s College as a DiXiT Early Career Researcher researching Social Editing. So now we have to packup our lives here in Victoria and get rid of everything we can’t fit in a suitcase.
This morning I was reading Melissa’s piece on Hook & Eye, one of my favourite websites (and run by Canadian academics! ), on self care and the risks of burnout. Because I’ve been so busy, as “briefly” outlined, it really resonated with me. I think academics in general, and especially academics who teeter on the edge of overengagement and overinvestment, are simply terrible at self-care. We also like to compete for the award of most busy, which is absurd (and within the context of which my above writing looks ridiculous, I know). I hate being busy. My dissertation has suffered tremendously, even while my professional profile has grown. I know more people than ever, but sometimes I feel I have less and less to say because I haven’t had any time to get in the archives and research, to read secondary literature, or to even roughly jot down my thoughts on the topics I’ve chosen to write a book on!
So like Mel, I’m trying to figure out what a work life balance looks like, and questioning whether or not the type of academic I hope to be–dynamic, personable, collaborative, rigorous–is compatible with the life I want day to day.
Figuring out that equation is hard, as is forcing yourself to take care of yourself-especially when it’s cold and rainy outside, as it is here in Victoria. On the other hand, the trees and meadows are vibrantly green, the flowers are blooming in most places, I have a supportive and incredible partner, and my professional life is fine. Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that.