#AcWriBloMo and The Many Crastinations of the Academic Blogger

I’ve decided that now is the time to raise my academic blogging game. This old thing just sits here gathering the internetual equivalent of dust, when there’s “impact” and “engagement” to be had in them there equally internetual hills. And, what’s more, I genuinely have a lot of ideas I want to share with the world, you guys! And a lot of conversations about stuff that I would love to have with anyone who happens to be reading this. However, I am quite bad at motivating myself to do things that are scary, which for some reason blogging is, in a stage-fright, feeling vulnerable and exposed kind of a way. So I have decided to motivate myself in two ways:

 1)Workcrastination:

The process whereby you put off doing actual work by doing other work-related things that aren’t currently as urgent or important. This is how I get 90% of anything done tbh: by finding something else I want to do less.

This is perhaps one of the most benign forms of crastination, a suffix that can also be used with many other words. Some of my favourites include woecrastination (making yourself too miserable to work by telling yourself you’re useless, awful, etc, possibly also looking at pictures of exes, thinking of mean things people have said about you, all the unpleasant things you have ever done in your life, etc, etc), ragecrastination (reading below the line, ever), and lookingathorribletatonebaycrastination (for e.g., wowsers).

Right now I am putting off writing a book proposal, an essay for a book, a vastly overdue essay for an online publication, the last two or three sections of the chapter I’m working on, doing a segmentation of a weird and annoying film that is taking forrrrrreeveerrrrrrrr, and, oh, just the usual hilariously long list of other things that I don’t want to think about that are lurking formlessly around me like moth-ball smelling ghosts of old debts. Suffice to say, writing a blog post instead suddenly seems wildly more attractive than it did previously.

me and my obligations, yesterday

me and my obligations, yesterday

2) Peer Pressure: (public shame as motivational tactic etc)

I run a group over on the facebook for postgrads and early career researchers to moan about stuff and find solace in one another’s moaning.

You should join us, it’s lovely, honestly. Anyway, I only started it so that I had other people to moan at and ask questions that seemed really stupid to, but now we have 300+ members so who’s stupid now? Well, still me, or at least, probably no less stupid than I was then, but at least I have people to help me. So I have talked them into joining me in a self-imposed #AcWriBloMo, in which we write a blog post a week for the next 4 weeks (how long is a month? how does time even work? what do words even mean? whatever).

We’ll be using that hashtag on twitter and facebook (sporadically, I expect) over the next 4 weeks while we try to do a blog post a week (roughly), each centred around a different loose theme. The first week’s theme is ‘taking stock’, which is what this post is meant to be about —  it can be taking stock of where you are in your research, maybe, or where you are in your blogging, or your career, or your field, or a specific task you’re working on (or any combination of the above) — just any kind of situating yourself in where you are currently.

Next week’s theme, or, perhaps more accurately, challenge, is to finish a previously-started but uncompleted blog post. I currently have 12 drafts (most of them cryptic three word aid memoires that do no such thing) so the choice is abundant.

As for the current topic:

Where Am I Now

For me, right now, I am just about to start my third year of my PhD, which is on representations of the Moors Murderers and Yorkshire Ripper in popular culture. My thesis will have a chapter on true crime, a chapter on fiction, a chapter on tv and film, and a chapter on music. I would have liked to have a chapter on visual culture and art but mate it is literally amazing how quickly you can spend a massive word limit. I suppose to be honest I feel like I have covered this area already to some extent already in my MA disseration (entitled ‘Visuality, Tourism and the Pop-Cultural Proliferation of Myra Hindley’, and something that I still, in spite of having handed it in getting on for 4 years ago, have done nothing about publishing/doing anything, but that’s a whole other vortex of worry for another day). I’ve just been working on the tv and film chapter, covering these tv shows and films:

This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper (2000)

See No Evil (2006)

The Red Riding series of tv film adaptations (2009)

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Longford (2006)

Peter: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (2011)

And chances are if this blog challenge goes to plan I will be returning to tell you more about all of these in the nearness of soon.

In the meantime, if you would like to get involved in this blog challenge, please feel free to comment below or join us on #AcWriBloMo, and please check back over the next 4 weeks. Thanks for reading.

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That was RESEARCH

Turns out, this is meant to be a research blog? Sort of. I’m in two minds about all of this. Cause, these days I am an actual PhD student? Doing actual doctoral research like it’s actually a thing? I’ve got to stop using the questioning inflection even in my THOUGHTS.

Over on PostgRAD FB Study Gang that I set up mostly for moaning and asking other PGs for advice, I recently found myself musing about research journals (those blocks of papery stuff) and research blogs (other people pretending to be professional on the internet). I really want one, but, being me, I also want to swear and make stupid jokes and complain and go off on tangents all the time. This is not a problem specific to blogs: I have a huge problem with my online profile in general.

Full disclosure: if you google me, the first result is my typo riddled PG profile. The second is my Bettakultcha talk about my research back when I were a young, (ha) foolish (very) MA student with an unfeasibly long dissertation title. It’s basically just me going LOLZZZZ MYRA HINDLEY’S FACE. Which, I stand by, but, it’s not exactly a TED talk. It is on the BK best of though so I suppose I should be proud. Unlike with the third result: a load of fairly innocuous but still unfunny stuff I posted on the Law of the Playground when I was about 18?1 Great. That is exactly what I want prospective employers to see. SIGHHH.

I might as bastard well admit it

I might as bastard well admit it

Also, because google are trying to ruin everyone’s lives, you can see what I’ve been watching on youtube. THANKS GUYS. Spoilers: it’s mostly Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple. AND I AM OK WITH THAT, OK.
(My academia.edu profile is waaay down at 9th place, after a stranger’s twitter and an article about Dutch prisons).

I’m having the same problem with twitter but sort of magnified — I follow lots of academics and grads (as well as Intellectual Internets Communists). Ideally I would like to not look like a twat in front of them. But I like swearing and ranting and talking about personal things and sharing my mental health tribulations and making inappropriate remarks, some of which are about people who appear in my thesis, and generally talking like LOLLZZZ STFU WTF and using stupid made up words, and talking myself through problems by thinking out loud. I don’t WANT to be forced to separate out these parts of myself, but eventually I’m going to have to figure out how to work this somehow. I know journalists who post about their hilarious sex lives and bodily malfunctions and all manner of other eyewateringly honest stuff all of the time and no-one seems to have decided they should be cast out into the outer darkness. But academia is different. I am wondering how I am going to work any of this. Especially since my  since my research itself is entirely composed of stuff Proper Academia turns its nose up at (I worry): serial killers, popular culture, internets, social justice, and wanking. It doesn’t help that the canon I have constructed is basically just Stuff What I Think Is Awesome And/Or So Bad It’s Hilarious. At this rate, if I’m really really lucky, I will become professor of Post-Irony Studies. Or end up presenting a channel 5 faux-educational shocka about Murderins.

TL;DR: being online is hard. If anybody DID R, and has some opinions about this, or a research blog of their own, or is just struggling to be a PG/academic and also a person, hit me up with your thinking, plz.

[Soz guise, I promise the next post will be more interesting. This is just talking myself back in.]

1: The dates it lists claim I was 21, but, it was a Thing when I was a 1st year undergrad, not 3rd, so, that’s weird. no-one cares but me, though, so, shhh now.