Thursday, February 2, 2012

Goodby academia, I don't want to write another paper.

I had decided that today was going to be THE day. That is, the day that I get started on writing another paper.

But you know what? I realised that I have reached a point where I just don't care enough anymore to bother.

So I read a novel instead (David Whitehouse, Bed: A novel, 2011. Truly EXCELLENT). And then I pottered.

In other words, I procrastinated. A lot.

Something I NEVER used to do. I have been too busy hitherto chasing my tail in the academic game to have time to procrastinate. I was disciplined. I was good at it. I have written countless grant applications, conference papers, papers, reviewers reports, book reviews (and of course an actual book), course outlines, assessment tasks, lecture notes and emails to students whose dogs ate their homework. I can spew words out at a truly alarming rate when I want to.

But I just don't want to anymore.

Last year I was extremely busy, not to mention diligent, in producing the requisite amount of work. But all the while I was concious that I was finalising things, rather than producing new outputs. In other words, I wanted everything in train to be done and dusted so that I could move on to other things.

And then I was sucked back in. A carrot dangled in front of me if you like. A tenuous link to the academic life I was trying to actively leave behind. It made me feel OBLIGATED to continue to produce outcomes. Yes, I thought, I can compromise some of my writing job application time for more research. Or even, said I, I will get a part-time job so I can keep writing.

Yeah. Right. Like I need to spend any more time of my life in the ranks of the marginally employed.

To be blunt, I have felt NAUSEOUS at the thought that I should keep on keeping on.

Give me an actual paid gig and I will jump through rings of fire if you want me to, but I am done working for free. I have done my time, paid my dues and am leaving this game to those who for one reason and another can afford to continue this life. It's not for me any more.

I am kind of sad saddish slightly despondent to say goodbye, for I have had a great time. But there is so much more for me to do with my life than sit inside writing any more. I can't wait to do something different and challenge myself to learn a whole new set of skills. Just as I was once desperate to start the PhD process, I am now desperate to start something new.

What that will be, I don't know yet. I do know this though: it is going to be F***ING GREAT and I will be REALLY AWESOME at it because the committment and discipline I have shown in my academic career are intrinsic to who I am, not the position I hold or the work that I do. See ya later academia, I have other things to look forward to.


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  2. Great post! And I feel you on the whole "give me a paid position and I'll jump thru fire, but until then so long suckers!" thing.

    I feel ready to throw myself into that next thing too...I just get impatient waiting for it to materialize!

    1. I hear you on the impatience... One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard about being unemployed was to "enjoy it, cause you will get a job eventually, and then you will wish you had more time to yourself". Not to helpful when you feel stuck in a rut and just treading water getting by, but I try and remember it anyway.

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