And we’re back. And by we I mean me.
I want to do regular updates this year about my happenings personally, professionally and creatively. Well I’ll try. As much as I want. I come and go as I please, you see. After all, I’m not a tame lion. Wait, huh? For a good while I have been unable to keep up with reviews (which I love, so just took to twitter ranting) because I have been bogged down with work, uncertainty about remaining in the UK, writing a book, and saying some painful goodbyes to a relationship and professional connection that were important to me.
If you saw my last blog, that catches you up on things going on but…
See, 2016 was a pretty terrible year. Bad times in a job I loathed and working with people I loathed. What started out as a lovely gig back in 2013 ended up becoming a nightmareish void quashing my creativity and crushing my soul. I so left. A risky thing. I left to do a two year Masters. Then because the UK gov are a word I can’t say because they are playskool toys around, I was forced to downgrade to the 1 year MA with potential to complete year 2 back in the states. At least that was the case until I learned funding wasn’t allowed for overseas schools unless you were there physically. So I took an even bigger risk.
Something you should know about me, if you don’t know already, if someone tells me ‘no’ or ‘you can’t’ that is just a challenge for me to make something work. So when it became clear I “could not” do the 2 year MFA and I “have to” leave the UK I went searching for a new avenue. This wasn’t easy.
That brings us to 2017. 2017 felt like I was drowning and I knew my survival was up to me. I would take a gasp of air then a wave would push me under. It started with an important relationship becoming increasingly unstable. As I dealt with the general uncertainty in my personal life, professionally there were other institutions into which I had poured a great amount of time an energy. My brain was harvested for ideas, a huge chunk of my time usurped, and what humble connections I had leeched and used with little or no respect or thankfulness for sheer amount of pro bono work being doing. Eventually the lack of care for my work and an inability to communicate important changes that affected it made me realise it was time to move on. This was a massive disappointment, all things considered. But I knew this was my sign to part with a project and organisation I had been heavily involved in.
I took break from reality and ventured to Edinburgh to worked at Fringe Festival with a dear friend. It was a perfect get away. A chance to evaluate my life. During my time in Edinburgh I realised my relationship really was over. I had grown depressed wishing to feel important in her life but I simple wasn’t and I knew it needed to end. On the very same day it ended I had a door close on me that would have allowed me to continue my MFA. The reality of losing my best friend and being rejected once again with my degree brought me quite low. My first year Masters had ended, I had done very well and got a good grade but the future was mirky and I had little joy. My success was dwarfed by my other failures.
Enter September 2017.
Here I began musing the idea of a PhD. I found the idea to be more of a pipe dream than a tangible reality. I often question my quality and worth as a human and creative – an issue stemming back to my childhood where all my creative talents and skills were viewed as useless or hobbies that amount to nothing nor worth pursuing professionally. But a PhD would be the only way to continue my education within the UK and allow me to achieve my goals. To add pressure onto that, I only had four months to make this a reality. Clue – that’s not a lot of time. So I begin investigating ideas and drafting proposals.
Meanwhile, from September – December, after some struggles, I did extra studies to gain teaching experience within Higher Education all the while working on my proposals. I loved the teaching experience. I co-taught a workshop of creative writing students. Week in and out students submitted work that would be critical challenged and evaluated. It was fun, for me. I was pleased with the students, they were awesome and engaged. But the other two co-teachers exhausted the hell out of me. Without going into much detail their behaviour was grossly unprofessional.
During the same period, I approached one potential supervisor with a draft proposal. Frankly it wasn’t working for him nor were we a good fit. I had a pretty rad and original idea involving Marvel comics and post-colonialism, but I was being pushed to write about gender and sex, other comic companies and topics that continuously pushed away my original idea. I parted with that idea and supervisor, adding it to my disappointment 2017 pile. Then I brought another idea to the table with another potential supervisor, someone who I have great respect for as an educator and writer. This idea would build upon my experience in historical crime fiction as well as my work with hard-boiled fiction. Between October to November 2017 I tirelessly began work on a new proposal knowing time was tick-tick-ticking away.
At the end of November 2017 my proposal was approved and I applied formally for the PhD. I waited three long weeks. Then just before Christmas my PhD was formally accepted. It was a weight lifted. But I kept it very quiet until I had everything officially in place. And it is! So I’m no longer quiet. January 2018 so far has been a hectic month of getting things in order and renewing my visa for this next step. It has been anything but stress free. The reality of this is, I am proud of myself for getting this placement. It’s my achievement. One unmotivated by anything expect it is what I want to do to further myself. And it’s a big achievement. After a frustrating, disappointing, and, frankly, painful year or two, knowing that I pushed through to get here is exciting. I have several years of intense work ahead of me. I’ve reached one summit in life, but now I go down to climb some more. I am so grateful to the few who did help to motivate and encourage me. I’m rarely a person who asks for help or exposes my wounds. But the days spent in coffee shops, walks in the parks, having cocktails or sitting by the fire with a rusty nail to drink have been meaningful and invaluable.
I guess life found a way. I want this next year to be a rejuvenating year. I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next, but I’ll try to release something once a month minimum.