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.