I’m settling well in my fixed-term post of Teaching Fellow in Film and Visual Culture. The teaching load is heavy, the days will be manic, and I’m raring to get cracking. We’re covering some great material with which I am very comfortable, and am becoming happily reacquainted with Deleuze’s Cinema texts. The PhD has done something to my brain, reading Deleuze gives me such joy now – what a difference from the frustrated grappling during the MA. Hopefully I can help my second year undergraduates get a decent grasp of him.
With only four full-time staff (including brand new short-term me), teaching for the department this semester, we are stretched, but shaping up to be a crack team. There will be little time for our own research endeavours. The commissioning editor for my monograph is happy for me to push my deadline back and make producing the manuscript my summer project. I have major revisions to do on an article that came back from peer review due in March. Considering I threw it together in less than a week and was unable to research it beyond what I had already put together for the conference paper from which it is derived, I’m pleased. Previous posts should explain why that time could not be found. The reviewers’ comments are fair and appreciated, and I hope will guide me towards producing a worthy piece of work. An issue that arises consistently is a lack of confidence and authority in the writing. This is likely indicative of my state of mind at the time of writing at the beginning of November (kick-starting an attempt to join @PhD2Published’s #acwrimo (academinc writing month) challenge, which for me failed miserably as I succumbed to the pressures of the part-time shop job that wasn’t so part-time. Then, I was at my lowest ebb, professionally, personally, and in wellbeing. So, if when feeling so down, I can produce an article showing potential and is worthwhile revising for resubmission, imagine what I can do when the mojo is back. The major revisions in this case are welcome and only to be taken positively. And they must be done, and done well.
Although I do have one article in the bag, it was not peer-reviewed, or revised, just printed, and not because it was a stellar piece of work. I don’t even think it holds the argument well. As an early career researcher (#ECR) – who happens to be a pretty good teacher, that much I am confident of – I need to get a peer-reviewed article in the current REF cycle to be in with a sliver of a chance of any further job applications so much as being looked at.
And then there’s the article which actually is a good piece of work out there somewhere in the ether. I revised and resubmitted it last summer without so much as an acknowledgement. I must chase it up in order to be free to submit it elsewhere. I worked too long and too hard on it with too much support from others to let it go.
Coming back to the monograph, it is something I am having great difficulty with on a decision-making level. I approached someone I know well professionally who is a prolific author of academic books. As I said to him, ‘You knock them out like Billy-o,’ at which he laughed and said, ‘That doesn’t mean they’re any good.’ This exchange has niggled at me since. Sure, perhaps he’s just being modest. I proofread one of his books for him and nothing otherwise crossed my mind. So what makes a ‘good’ monograph? How do I protect myself against scathing reviews of my meaningless drivel? I doubt I can. Apart from anything, that’s just how it is anyway. As it stands, holes can easily be poked in some arguments and lots of ‘why this?’ questions could be asked – I need to redress those weaknesses. My case studies are strong, though. I know that my critical analysis is intelligent and well written. Engagements with some others’ texts can be improved. My problem is this: in the UK if publishing monographs carries much less weight than articles in peer-reviewed 4/5 star international journals, why should I worry? Just knock it out and don’t look back. I’m young in this game after all. But it’s my baby coming to life, my first book, from years of hard, life-changing toil. I want it to be impressive. I want to be proud of it. Realistically, I have no time or funding to improve it any more than a huge edit and partial rewrite, and now want to hold it back until the next REF cycle anyway. My head is swimming and I have no choice but to stay resolved to the tasks at hand. Priorities are the job and the article corrections. Then making an enquiry about the other article as that is the work of minutes. The rest is a problem for June when I am jobless.