If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Sunday, March 9, 2008


I want to stretch my voice, my writer's voice that is. As a child/adolescent/young adult I wrote fiction but never kept a journal. I also wrote papers for school but never really worked too hard on them. As a graduate student and an emerging professional I learned (with great difficulty) to write in an academic voice. Once I became proficient at that voice I found it difficult to write fiction. Then in my early thirties I started writing poetry. However I found I couldn't freely go between creative writing and academic writing. If I was productive on my dissertation or with journal papers I wasn't free enough to create; if I was happily writing poetry (or one attempt at a novel) I couldn't fit my voice back into the narrow confines of academia. Eventually I stopped the creative writing to get "serious" about my career.

Changing jobs and moving down south seemed like a good time to try and bridge my voices. I started a journal that, for the first time, I've managed to keep going. At the same time my research started to change--to get more innovative, more creative itself--and I started to explore different academic writing styles that were less conventional, less lab report-like, than what I had done previously.

This winter I had an opportunity to write a scholarly chapter and came up with an idea for structuring it that really tested my writing limits. It has recently come back from the editor with major revisions. I've only glanced at the review as I need a few days to face them without emotion. Holding off on a review is something I haven't had to do for a long time. I believe this means I'm deeply invested in wanting this new style to succeed.

I started this blog, in part, to help with the process and so far I think it has been working. I haven't gotten back to fiction or poetry yet but I'm getting more comfortable switching between my traditional academic work and my new work. The journal entries have definitely slowed down but I'm happy to report it is still in existence.

So progress to be sure, but still a long way to go.


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I know what you mean about trepidation over an editor's suggestions for revision. I was the same way when I received my manuscript back from my editor, James, at Kunati Books. As I read over his notes, I kept having this thought: "Oh, my God, how did this book get THIS far?" But after completing his requested revisions, I found that the book was even stronger than it was before. The stylistic decisions I had made that he wanted changed ended up, in fact, being good things to change. I felt 100 percent even better about the manuscript after going through the editing process. Fear not the red pen-- and, by the way, it's also ok to insist on keeping some stuff in that you feel strongly about and can argue about with the editor. It's part of the process, you know?
Thanks for an insightful read.
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse

post-doc said...

I think it's great that you're embracing the process and thinking so much about how to communicate ideas. And waiting on revisions is often helpful for me too - it can be rather painful to change what you thought was good to start.

Amanda said...

I think that this blog is working. I enjoy reading your blog and your blog "voice." I hope everything works out with the revisions!