This is a question that I ask myself in a variety of situations and is often about reflecting on choices or something I’m trying to understand about myself. I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts exploring this question in regards to myself as a scholar and future college/university faculty member. In particular:
- What am I doing? – the writing edition
- What am I doing? – the children’s and YA lit edition
- What am I doing? – the reading edition
- What am I doing? – the teaching edition
This edition will focus on my writing, particularly because as I have backed off a bit from blogging and twitter over the past month I’ve been taking stock of what I am doing as a writer in all aspects of my life.
Starting in January of 2012 I became quite active with my “social media writing”. I started this blog as a new years resolution – one of the only resolutions I’ve ever kept for more than month. Initially this surprised me because as a ph.d. student, it is the time of year that I am most busy with teaching, serving on committees, completing course work; all of this along with my mom/spouse/friend commitments. Now is “summer” for me. I say that in quotes because when non-teachers talk about summer for teachers and students – there is often an assumption that summer = free time. This is not true.
This is the first time since beginning my career as a ph.d. student that I have not taught during the first summer session. This means that the past three years I went right from spring to summer semester with one week in between. This may sound glorious on paper, but teaching is not all I do. I also need to be working on my own scholarship, which right now means finishing a practicum and writing a dissertation proposal. I had planned on being finished with my practicum by now, but I am not. I will be soon.
Back to my question, “What am I doing?” (and what does it have to do with blogging and twitter?!)
I am writing a practicum – I have previous drafts but none of them were quite right. I tried a few different methods and theoretical frameworks that didn’t pan out. I’ve been frustrated that these haven’t worked but now I realize that they have all helped me make some sort of progress with my practicum – at the very least what I did not WANT to do. I had been spending a lot of time trying to anticipate what others wanted me to do or how I could fit myself in someone else’s idea of scholar – now I realize that I need to figure it out myself, ALL by myself and then I will be able to write in an authentic way. Yes, I still need to worry about audience but what is more important is for me to believe that I have something to contribute to the ways that people think about children’s literature – in multiple outlets. That is how blogging and twitter have helped me, the realization that I have something meaningful to contribute to discussions about teaching and literature. Finding that voice online is helping me to find it in my scholarly writing.
Some of my mentors and colleagues don’t believe that writing on blogs and tweeting is scholarly or will help me to get a job when I start looking next year. It may not be for everyone. But for me, it has made a huge difference, one that I hadn’t anticipated back in January when I launched Children’s Literature Crossroads or in November when I became much more actively involved on twitter @kmcilhagga. I’ve been feeling guilty the last few weeks for not writing more on the blog or twitter, I’ve missed it a bit but I’ve also been writing more on my practicum than I have in quite a while and making some fantastic progress. I think that I had to pull back from blogging and tweeting because I know my voice there – I believe in it, I am confident (most of the time) in it. I needed to take that energy and put it towards finding a similar sense about my academic writing. It’s happening and I’m really excited. That’s something I’ve never felt about academic writing before.
So to all of you who follow my blog, to my twitter friends and PLN who have pushed me to think about myself as a reader and become much more clear with a few words, thank you for being my audience and helping me to develop as a writer.