Academic and creative

Earlier this week I got great news: I’ve been accepted into the doctoral programme at the University of Turku. I’m incredibly happy I’m getting to do a PhD, as continuing in academia has been my goal ever since I got my MA two years ago. Now it’s going to happen for real: I get to work on Middle English, concentrating on contemporaneous evidence in the form of manuscripts. A fizz of academic creativity is building up in me as I think about all the interesting stuff I’m going to study and do!

I hope that concentrating on academia will also help me with my creative writing. Quite a lot of my poems/stories are inspired by the stuff I come across in my research: history just has so much weird and wonderful detail begging to be elaborated on or twisted into fantasy worlds. And of course, compared to a 9-to-5 job, the self-made schedules of academia will leave a lot more leeway for integrating creative writing with the rest of my life. Yay!

On the other hand, it’s going to be busy. Things always are (with me, at least). So, I’m going to have to teach myself new ways of self-discipline and how to balance academic work with my creative writing. Both are important to me, but I don’t want to become overwhelmed.

Brandi Schillace wrote a really inspiring post related to this topic over at Magical Words. I read this post back in April when it was published, but it’s even more useful now that I know I’ll actually be doing this PhD thing. Brandi has some sound advice for overachievers regardless of whether you’re working in academia or not – a really good read. Being “good enough” is so hard for people like me who tend towards perfectionism, but it’s essential to learn (and re-learn).

This is something I especially want to keep in mind (from the blog post):

Balancing academic, work, and writing life isn’t about roguish daring and a willingness to burn the candle at both ends. It requires re-seeing, a new vision of what balance means.

Starting this autumn, I’ll have to find out what that balance is for me.

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‘Shrug Charm’ in Goblin Fruit for your reading pleasure

The Spring 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit is now live! Huzzah!

Read the issue here. It’s full of gorgeous poems – I’m very happy to be amongst such talented company. Wonderful art as always, too. I really love what Paula Friedlander’s done with the bold outlines and lush, 3D colourscapes.

Here’s my poem: ‘Shrug Charm’.

‘Shrug Charm’ was born a couple of years ago when I was working a rather dismal temp job. It was cold in the office and I was glad of the shawl/shrug thing I’d knitted. Sadly, the real-life knitted item is not as magical as in the poem. Then again, it did act as inspiration, it made words happen… so perhaps that yarn does have a magic to it, after all.

(Kinda) Sunday recs

It’s past midnight but I’m still calling this Sunday recs because I haven’t gone to bed yet. Days, this is how they work. I’ve been good and gone to sleep before 1am for the past couple of nights, but it’s not going to happen today. But for a good reason: I’ve spent six hours editing a novelette (start to finish) and didn’t finish till past 11pm, after which I had to make the dinner that I’d neglected making earlier. Only now am I full enough and coming down from the writing high enough to even consider bed.

Anyway, enough babbling. Here’s some fairytale-themed pieces that I’ve enjoyed:

Fitting In by Katrina Robinson (in Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine): this is a pretty awesome Cinderella poem – from the shoe’s point of view!

The Faerie Tailor by Suzanne J. Willis (in Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi): gorgeous flash piece, such lyrical prose.

Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas by Alberto Yáñez (in Strange Horizons): this is such an amazing story! A powerful, beautiful story of a trans kid with a fairy godmother.

Poetry World Cup 2014

The Missing Slate is organising a Poetry World Cup!

The competition involves 32 poems by poets representing 32 different countries. All of the poems have been previously published in the magazine. There’s a poetry match every day till July 13th, and you can help pick the winner each day by voting on the website. The world cup proceeds from first round to quarterfinals etc.

This is a super fun invention, and much more relevant to my interests than the football world cup. :D If you feel like reading good poetry from international voices, go forth to The Missing Slate and vote for your favourite.

Women Destroy Science Fiction! (in which I also blather about other books)

Lightspeed Magazine’s special issue Women Destroy Science Fiction! is now available as an ebook! Huzzah! I just got myself a copy and am super excited about reading it. Wow! Such awesome, much destruct, so women.

So much to read! In addition to this special issue of Lightspeed, I’ve got the following books on my bedside book-table (yes, I have a separate one for books; before you imagine some towering edifice, it’s just a glorified stool):

  • Hild by Nicola Griffiths. I’m in the first third of this book – such beautiful writing!
  • William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher. Have been slowly reading this since Christmas. Awesome concept, quite funny, and usually well Shakespearified, but the misuse of the second person singular pronoun “thou” irks me (omg you cannot use “thou” to address more than one personnn).
  • Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer. I usually don’t like writing guides and such, but Wonderbook has some pretty good stuff. I’ve been slow with getting through it because I want to concentrate on it properly when reading. It’s pretty awesome to read a creative writing guide that concentrates on speculative fiction instead of turning its nose up at it!
  • The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar; Here, We Cross edited by Rose Lemberg; and Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older. I only just got this lovely trio of books, and haven’t begun reading them yet because I’m so excited about them that I want to give them my full attention. I suspect they will all make me cry with awesomeness.

And then there’s the growing number of unread books in my shelves. I’m trying to avoid the library right now because otherwise I just end up reserving loads of good books from there instead of reading my own. I ♥ the public library for the Helsinki metropolitan area – there’s a lot of good SFF books. But that means that whenever I come across a book I’m interested in online, I can reserve it from the library, and of course I have to read the library books first, and… neverending cycle. For now, I’ll just write down any interesting new titles and loan them from the library later on. I’ve got around 30 unread books waiting mournfully in my bookshelves: time to tackle them first. A task for this summer, perhaps!

In conclusion: booksss. We loves them, precious.

Niteblade #28 is now online!

Niteblade #28 is online here – titled after my poem :)

A snippet of my poem ‘Looking-Glass Lover’ is here. To get the whole issue free to read online, Niteblade relies on donations and purchases – so if you want to get the issue for everyone to read, consider buying yourself a super cheap .epub, .pdf or .mobi copy of the issue!

I’ll let you know when my poem is free to read in its entirety. But if you can’t wait, do get yourself a copy of the whole issue.