I have very recently attended some meetings of local writers' groups--people who write poetry, prose, other kinds of creative writing, along with newspaper journalist type of writing and other kind of professional writing/writers--albeit none of its academic writing. This is so wonderful for me, because my first love of writing is creative writing, poetry and prose, and too many years of academic writing has meant I felt like that well was dried up, that I would never get back to it, that it was a thing of the past.
For me these are wonderful, because I am doing a small bit of poetry and prose writing again, I get to meet and socialise with people who are from all walks of life, I can be free to express myself, to explore, to feel artistic and creative, freed, if you will from the shackles of the dullness of academic pendantry. On the other hand, the academic experience has served me well in that I am not bothered on a personal level when getting my work critiqued in the group, and can offer technical editing suggestions when people want those with a high degree of comfort and confidence.
I find the same thing is true of drama groups, I joined one last year and we're doing A View from the Bridge (Arthur Miller), for which I'm in charge of properties. I'm no actor, but I love every minute hunting for props and getting involved with set design. You're right - it's great to get a bit of creativity going on in your life. I sometimes feel a bit guilty as it's time that could be used to work on my PhD... but then again it's also important to do something different.
My real love is in prose writing of short stories ( though I find that a really really challenging format!) or even aspirations of a novel, and occassionally poetry. I have aspirations of doing a poetry anthology in the next year or so ( in and amidst the PhD! ) even if I just do some kind of very limited self publishing. I just like to write and see where it takes me. I am not at all linear in this ( or really any kind of writing, at least in the beginning stages) and find it sort of like climbing into a hot air ballon and sailing off into the blue yonder, not sure where you are going, but certain the journey will be fun and an adventure.
I am trying to recapture that sailing away in a hot air ballon free feeling that I had with my PhD. Yes, I recognise the need for discipline, that certain rules exist, etc, but even operating within those, I used to have a feeling of wonderful anticipation about what I was learning. Now I am trying to reorder my focus on my topic to bring that back, and think about what ***I** think is essential to say, and not neccesarily retrod the already worn out ground on certain debates, topics, points of view in the literature.
Reading your post was refreshing as I am into writing too. I attend a writers eve once a month but its mostly published writers reading from their work, wonderful poetry sessions too... but i have been looking for a different kind of group where i can get to read my own work and get people to comment on it. is your group anything of this sort??? thanks
Well, it seems to me that one of the things about writing and doing a PhD at the same time is that I've heard many writers make comments along the lines of writing being a habit that you have to nurture by writing every day... and if you think about, doing a PhD has already got you into that habit!
Olivia - in the last couple of years I've come across several people doing PhDs which include creative writing (ie writing a play or novel) which is then submitted along with a thesis which relates to it. From what you've said, I take it you're not doing one - and I was just wondering why not? I would have thought it would be a great way to combine academia with something you obviously love. Or does your PhD involve a subject that you love even more?
Yeah, writers' groups are great fun, aren't they. I belonged to one for a year or two once upon a time, in fact, that's how I got my first book published. If you want to meet other poets and have a chance of getting some poetry published in an anthology, you could check out www.bewrite.net (which is the online community I joined who eventually published my book for me). It's a good community and a way of sharing online as well as offline.
Voila, you have hit the struggle re: my PhD on the head. No, its not something I love more than writing ( non academic writing). Not even close! So why am I doing one and not the other? A life question to solve. Its the what I should do vs. what I want to do--what is going to be what I do the rest of my life...an existential crisis?
Creative communities of any kind are essential to survival, I think! I'm glad you're feeling happier having found yours, Olivia! I'm about to attend my first writers' conference and have bagged an appointment to pitch my novel to an editor from one of the world's biggest publishing houses, so I'm on cloud nine. Nothing, not even PhD turmoil, can put me in a bad mood now =)
glad to hear all this great buzz about creative writing far from the PhD. it's good for the soul! Got a question to ask you all; does anyone of you know of a reading group where you read your own work and get comments? especially novels and not poetry? Oliva can you devuldge on the group you attended or not????? catchianthe good luck, I know how hard it is to get such an opportunity. hope it yields! Just been trying to get an agent for a while now....
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