more thinking: fellowship application – this is still very much in the back of my mind.
My new book was published a few weeks ago. I’d last worked on it shortly before the summer, when I received the proofs and made the index.
During the summer, I worked on two book chapters that I’d been asked to contribute. I enjoyed working in the direction of what I have now decided will be my next book on floods narratives. One of the chapters I wrote explores the ethical dimension of climate crisis – as depicted in British flood novels – and especially how privilege, blame and narrative perspective tie into each other. The second chapter presented two ecocritical readings to the early work of Jim Crace. I hadn’t worked on this author before – getting into it was challenging, but I also got to try out some things in the article that I hadn’t done before, so that was good.
With a conference in early September – where I gave a paper based on the ethics and climate crisis paper – it wasn’t until the end of the month that I really felt enough space in my mind to start on research again. I’ll be spending much of my research time in the final months of this year on a chapter on IanMcEwan and science, ecology and climate crisis. I’ve written on McEwan before (in my dissertation, and in The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism), but it took me a while to find the angle that I thought would be most interesting.
Despite all of these projects I felt stalled, somehow. While I enjoy contributing to books, the way in which all of these chapters coincided in this year has perhaps also left little room for more creative thought.
But since figuring out what I want with the McEwan article, my mind has been bustling with ideas. I can’t pursue most of them in detail at the time, but I’ve been writing them down, and adding things to them as I go along. I’m currently spending most of my research time on the McEwan chapter, writing on my research day and finding little pockets here and there to read an article for that project, to chase down some references and to add notes to my structure. I had felt very tired over the past weeks, but finding my flow with this article has made me feel physically better.
Something that helped me think about my research process – and just how much I love doing research – is Helen Sword’s Air & Light & Space & Time. While it’s not a ‘how-to’-manual, just reading about the way in which other people approach research projects helped me to re-energize my own. It’s also made me want to try out new things when it comes to my research, which I’ll probably blog about in the future.
What also helped me is talking to two friends, and to reaching out to people to ask for advice. Both friends picked up on my pessimistic outlook in terms of where my research career is going and their responses helped me realise that things are going well (the book!), and that I have many more ideas to pursue.