Writing More; Writing Differently

Writing More; Writing Differently February 28, 2014
(note: I am not actually creating graffiti in this picture!)
“Pipe Dreams” Photography and concept by Libby Bulloff; modeling and costuming by me
(note: I am not actually creating graffiti in this picture!)

As a follow up to my post on why people shouldn’t tell folklorists to write children’s books, I thought I would reflect a little on writing in my life these days.

I’ve always written. I started keeping a dream journal some time in elementary school, and I wrote my first novel in 4th grade. I began keeping a journal of recollections in middle school, and I made it a daily writing practice in high school. I still journal every day (or almost – sometimes I’ll leave a day unwritten and come back a day or two later to complete it). That means I have a daily chronicle of at least half of my life. I’ve been writing in various online forums since 2000, and I’ve been writing short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction on and off since around that time as well.

When I started grad school, I decided to put my other writing loves on the back-burner for a while, so that I could  really excel as an academic. I maintained other hobbies, of course, like dance and cooking, but I didn’t want to expend energy writing things that weren’t directed toward my goal of becoming an awesome scholar. I maintained my daily journal practice, and I continued to do some blogging here and there, but fiction definitely dropped out of my life for a while.

Now, however, I’m in a holding pattern. I’ve got my PhD – now what? I haven’t landed the sweet tenure-track professorship of my dreams, so I’m exploring other options. One of those options is writing.

Something that shifted in grad school, which I only noticed recently, is that I really started to love writing nonfiction. That, and I’m quite good at it! I love crafting clear, accessible prose that conveys information and insight. Whether I’m writing for an academic audience or the public, I’ve truly grown to enjoy this kind of writing. Sometimes I even get paid for it, as in paid blogging gigs and freelance educational writing gigs.

Basically, I’ve always been a writer. I’m just now reframing my ideas on how to go about it, and how to incorporate it into my identity and my career.

So, while I continue to waft in post-PhD limbo, I’ve decided to write more, and write differently. I’ll maintain my daily journal practice, and I’ll consider to blog (both here and at MySexProfessor.com – which I adore for numerous reasons, since I think it’s really important to disseminate information about gender, sex, and sexuality to the public).

But I’ll also start investigating the kind of writing that I want to do. I’m no longer the starry-eyed Berkeley graduate signing up to move across the country and start grad school; doubtlessly I’ll be interested in writing different kinds of things now than I was then. I think I want to continue to develop my craft as a non-fiction writer, though I may dabble in fiction again. I may listen to the hordes of friends and family members who are telling me to write a book to market to the general public, since apparently I have enough interesting things to say that people are eager to read my work. In order to find my voice now, as a mature scholar-writer, I’ll need to write more, and perhaps write things I hadn’t originally set out to write. But this much is for sure: I’m looking forward to the process!

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  • Cat

    Outstanding. This sounds like a fun adventure, just waiting to unfold! <3

    • jeana

      Thanks Cat! I’m enjoying it thus far.

  • Paul Patton

    Because of the same sorts of worries about the academic job market, I’ve been writing more lately too. I write radio scripts for ‘A Moment of Science’ on public radio. I do enjoy explaining science to a broad audience, although sometimes I don’t get to explore the issues with as much depth as I am used to. I’ve also been learning more about fiction writing by helping a friend with her steampunk fantasy novel.

    • jeana

      Yes, writing for a different audience can be really stimulating, though it always has its pros and cons.

  • As a writer, I’m glad to hear you’re still writing!

    I love those moments when you realize that the inside of your head is a different place–a whole new place to explore!

    Good luck!


    • jeana

      Thanks Sami! I always enjoy hearing your perspective on things.