I’m trying to psych myself up to apply for a postdoc fellowship at Oslo University. It’s for four years. They’re interested in ‘culturally oriented literary research’, including ‘projects that combine theoretical reflections on historicity and mediality with the reading of concrete literary works’. So – pretty much right up my alley. I can’t afford not to apply for this. But it is really hard to make myself do it.
Firstly, I don’t think I have a realistic chance of winning it at the moment. I just haven’t got my act together in terms of pulling together a book proposal and churning out a few articles. I’ve been working full time and studying part time for the past few months so I’m not beating myself up about it. But there it is. I should apply anyway, for practice, and so they know my name. More things will come up. Norway is a very good place to be for postdoctoral funding.
Secondly, I’m finding it really hard to come up with a new project. I’m really happy with my PhD, and quite looking forward to carving a book out of it. But something new? Do I stick with medievalism or go further afield? Do I stick with Australian literature or do I branch out? I came up with quite a nice one-year-plan for an earlier unsuccessful application, but a four-year-plan is another matter.
The trouble is, my big ideas tend to have slow, quiet births. I wrote a novel, on and off, for ten years. And I thought about my PhD for years before I started it. And I’ve never been one of those super-organized types with well thought out life plans. I’ve always thought – I would quite like to be a academic, but I won’t be devastated if it doesn’t work out. I have my other writing that I can do. I write stories. That is my deep desire. But the trouble is, after finishing the novel, I haven’t written any stories, either. I was of course writing a PhD. But finishing the novel, finding a beautiful end to a story that had haunted me for years and years, resolved something inside of me. The stories suddenly weren’t urgent any more. Even if it never gets published, it is written.
I know there will be new things to write; I can’t imagine a life without writing. (This blog helps with that a lot, actually – it’s a space to weave writing gently into the cracks between things.) But I’m not sure, right now, exactly what they will be.