Back to school nerves

I’m up too early for a Sunday morning because I’m worrying about how much writing I have to do. I’m worrying, but I’m also excited about getting back to work. I love this time of year, when there are no students about, when half my colleagues are away and the university is calm and peaceful. Such a good time to get thinking done. Perhaps it’s best to make a list. The following might also enlighten people who ask me what I do in the ‘holidays’ (implying that academics do very little in the ‘holidays’).

1. Write ARC grant application. For those of you who might not know, academics can apply to the Australian Research Council for funds to carry out research. The grants are very competitive, with about 20% success (the sort of grant I’m applying for has only 9% success!).  If we’re lucky enough to land one of these grants, not only can we then carry out the research, but our university benefits financially and in terms of national rankings and all those sorts of important things. So getting a grant is a GOOD THING. To this end universities support us no end in our quest to win some money, providing workshops, advice sessions, mentoring, budget advice, money for preliminary studies, etc etc. In the end though, it’s a matter of a person or group of people sitting down for weeks or months on end and nutting out a research area, a methodology, a time frame, a justification (ie why is this research relevant & what good will it do?) etc, and writing about it concisely and eloquently. The format is very particular and complex, the readers are something of a mystery, and the grant-writing itself is a fine art. SO. I’m going to apply for funds to look at the cosmetic surgery tourism industry in South-East Asia. I want to focus, over three years, on Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and The Philippines. Applications are due in March — I have a rough draft that took me about a month, and I need to work at least a couple of days a week on it from now on. Goodbye to weekends for a while.

2. I need to have a 5000 word paper written about two artists who work with cosmetic surgery & body modification by the end of January.  It’s called ‘Image, place and body in the work of Leora Farber and Orlan’. I know what I’m going to say, I just need to get it down in a decent form. That one will be fun because I get to sit and contemplate things like this and this.

3. I’ve promised a 6000 word review to a journal about three books, all to do with what I call technoculture.  Windows, screens, speed, automobiles, cyborgs, films, modernity. That sort of thing. Simple really [groans]. I’m not going to get that done by the 8 January due date, no way. Hmmmn.Will have to write to the editor and beg for an extension.

4. I need to think about what to say in in Vancouver in March at a conference that’s being built around Cosmetic Surgery: A Feminist Primer. Really looking forward to that trip as I’m going via LA for a couple of days to interview some surgeons, and in Vancouver I’ll see my lovely friend & co-editor Cressida.

5. I have another 6000 word paper due in early March. This one is called ‘Cosmetic Surgery and the Fashionable Face’. I’m going to write about Madonna’s recent de-wrinkling and about how notions of beauty have changed in line with cosmetic surgery becoming mainstream. But first, I need to have a long interview-chat with my friend Darryl Hodgkinson. This shouldn’t be too onerous.

6. I still have about 90 submissions for Trunk Volume Two: BLOOD to get through. Slowly but surely… perhaps I can manage five a day, after dinner? (I can work on 50% brain power if I’ll I’m doing is putting things in YES, NO, MAYBE boxes and writing people emails).

All that, along with PhD supervisions, rewriting two subject outlines & generally getting ready for semester to begin at the end of February.  Oh, and perhaps running a four-hour workshop in late January about creative PhDs for another university. And I need to get down to Melbourne to see my Nannas, too, because I didn’t go over Christmas. Easy really.  Remember: I love my job, it’s my dream job, I love my job. Tomorrow morning I’ll buy myself a bunch of flowers and head into the university to get started.

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8 Responses to “Back to school nerves”

  1. Zoo Says:

    ah, you make it all seem so EASY! if just a little scary…

    think i have finally implanted NO LONG SUMMER HOLIDAYS DOING POST-DOC RESEARCH into the heads of all in my immediate path– hope i have because if ONE more person asks what i am doing with my lovely big break i may just have to get violent :)

    ah, why do we do it? is it a form of masochism?

    dumdedum, and back to my boob books!

    x

  2. Pavlov's Cat Says:

    “(implying that academics do very little in the ‘holidays’)”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  3. Carla Says:

    İ definitely want to know about madonna’s dewrinkling

  4. Kathleen Says:

    Ouch. Reading this post gives me a panicky idea that I should write a similar to-do list.

    It took until now to clear emails that had come in between 20 December and 4 January. And that wasn’t responding, that was just weeding. Argh. Writing? What’s that again?

  5. Stephanie Says:

    That’s a very lovely review of your book, Meredith! Congratulations!!

  6. Meredith Jones Says:

    Thanks Stephanie,
    yes it was a really nice surprise.

  7. Peter T Says:

    I’m commenting as at 25th and Jan so can only add HURRY UP THEN!

  8. DyncIcegany Says:

    I’m going to create my own project since you don’t see any decent jobs out there.

    Can someone provide any recommendations or sites as to how to apply for government grant money to set up my personal small business? I have already been looking over the internet but every single web-site demands for money and I have been told by the unemployment office to stay away from the websites that want money for grant info because they’re rip-offs. I’d personally be truly grateful for any support.

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