Latest News

It’s been a crazy week yet again as the new university term edges its way closer.  From the first of October the fresher students will be arriving and we’ll see whether the new induction day programme, in whose organization I’ve been heavily involved, will be a success. Cross your fingers for me. My college has one of the largest fellowships in the university and therefore, inevitably, one of the most unwieldy. Getting people even to reply to an email during the vacation has been literally impossible at times, and yet I do sympathise. Research time has been reduced and reduced over the years with graduate programmes, administration tasks and the necessity of attending conferences eating away at what ought to be a precious few peaceful months. But one of my meetings last week was with the student president and he was a delight; it was great to be reminded of the point of all the hassles and struggles and to realise how much the students can be helped and supported if we make effort in the right places. The first thing I have to do next week is write my speech – oo-err, it’s been two years since I stood on a podium and I hope I can remember what I have to do.

Other than that, I’ve been continuing with the research for my academic book – the Simon novel with the eleven page sentence will feature in the next section I’m writing, alongside the works of Samuel Beckett, who is always fun to write about. I’m conscious of all the time I lost over the summer, so I need to keep steadily moving forward with this project. Good news at last on the motherhood book too. The original proposal I put forward to my agent has changed and changed again and finally we’ve reached a structure and concept for the book that we’re both pleased with. I have learned so, so much doing this, because moving from academic writing to commercial is a huge jump. But what I’ve got now is a hundred times better than where I started and I’m really grateful to my agent for having been so patient with me and so insightful. I’m on new sample chapters (completely different to the first ones I wrote), which is exciting. It’s still a long way off a book contract, and as usual I’ll be looking for a publisher in the middle of a big recession.  I graduated in the last recession and moved into modern languages as they entered a swift downturn in popularity as a university subject, so you’d think I’d be used to it! Still, whatever happens, I feel I have learned a lot, and the creative process has been fascinating.

And finally, it was my wedding anniversary on Friday. We’ve been married fifteen years, and it’s probably been the biggest creative learning process of them all, but also one where I feel what we’ve ended up with is a hundred times better than where we began. I arrived at university with a boyfriend back home and no intention of meeting anyone – isn’t it always the way? My husband says he noticed me because I always walked towards him at parties with a big smile on my face. Alas he did not realise this was because I was too vain to wear my glasses, and a six foot four blonde is easy to spot in a crowd. I seem to remember he first made a dent in my heart when, going home for the weekend, I gave him a hug goodbye and he declared it to be the first hug he’d had since he was twelve. Ah, it’s playing the sympathy card that gets me every time. He also says I should tell the new students that at university he learned about 1) girls, 2) rowing and 3) engineering, and that the order of significance hasn’t changed ever since he graduated. I think this would be the start of a very slippery slope. We had a lovely day for our anniversary – the sun shone (rare, this year) and we went out for lunch and couldn’t quite believe that fifteen years had passed. If husbands were books I’d review him as the King of all comfort reads with a surprising amount of intellectual content and some really sterling one-liners. Still, you can see why I haven’t managed to get an actual book review on the site this week, despite the fact that I’ve had some wonderful reading. Hope to change that tomorrow.


16 thoughts on “Latest News

  1. Congratulations on fifteen successful and creative years in partnership. Good luck with the writing. I am always reminding myself that the great cathedrals of Europe were never built in a single generation. They always overran their building schedules. Why should a great book be any different? Not that I am writing a great book 🙂

  2. Congratulations on your anniversary! (I’m only a couple of years behind you…has it been that long?!). It sounds like you had a lovely day! I feel for professors when it comes to administrative tasks–how do you ever get anything done (that is actually completely hands on job related?). Even in the library we are bombarded with meetings (I’ve never worked anywhere before where we had so many meetings) and training sessions, and on and on. Why is it in academia that any decision made has to be done by committee? Good luck on your upcoming speech (do you were black robes like they show on movies, by the way?)–I’m sure it will be smashing! And how exciting that the book is moving along well! I’d say that, yes, you have some good excuses for not having shared book reviews! Looking forward to them when you can squeeze them in! 🙂

  3. Happy anniversary and many many congrats – 15 years is of course wonderful!! And good luck with the Freshers – I’ve survived my week, babe, so you can survive yours also!

    Love & hugs


  4. Many congratulations are due – for your anniversary and for making progress on your book. We celebrate our 14th anniversary on Wednesday, and I would agree that marriage is a wonderful creative learning process.

  5. Congratulations on your anniversary, and on the progress with your book. Change is inevitable in marriage and in work, and though it’s often a bit scary in the process, if we can be open to it the results can be quite invigorating!

  6. Lots of congratulations — for the progress on the motherhood book and for the anniversary! I love your review of your husband as a book! Best of luck with the new term and your new role in it – it sounds exciting. I’m sure you’ll do great with that speech.

  7. What a cheerful, energetic, forward-looking post! I am so happy for you. To speak so highly of your partner after fifteen years is quite a feat. He is certainly as lucky as you are!
    The countdown to the unveiling of your new post at university – fingers are crossed. I am sure it will be a success. Students do appreciate support and you will make a big difference in their lives. I am anxious to hear how it all rolls out.
    Two books going strong! It is amazing how a project can change mid-stream, and you find your new route is even more brilliant than the brilliant original! I look forward to the new “motherhood.”
    And good luck with the speech. Your writing is so erudite, I am sure the speech will be a success.
    I hope your next week is as wonderful as this past one.

  8. Archie – thank you so much, dear Archie! My academic books is definitely of the cathedral type and I shall pass the metaphor on to my long-suffering publisher! Eva – thank you! I think I’m lucky to have him. Danielle – you are such a sweetie. I don’t know how we ever get through the admin – well, it gets done badly most of the time! Happily I don’t have to wear my gown to lecture, but I do need to give some thought to what I might wear (I usually start with the shoes that are the best compromise between comfort and style and work my way up!). More book reviews soon, because I can’t possibly neglect them, now can I? 🙂 Anne – fifteen years for us both, and Danielle and Charlotte right behind us. That must be a lot of years if you tot them up. So glad to know you survived – I like the feeling of solidarity! You are a sweetheart; love and hugs to you too. Charlotte – oh many congratulations for next Wednesday! I hope you have something nice planned. Thank you for the kind words – most creativity is just plugging on adding the next little bit, as you well know! Equiano – thank you so much! How nice of you to say so. Becca – isn’t it the funniest thing about change? I like to think I’m good with it – until I actually have to confront it and then I’m often horrified. But it’s amazing how often it turns out to truly be for the best. Dorothy – what a lovely comment from you – thank you! I’ll bet you could come up with a wonderful bookish description of the Hobgoblin! I’m at the point now of thinking I’ll feel much better when this speech is over, so thank you for the kind words – much appreciated. Qugrainne – it’s lovely to have you visit and to leave such an encouraging and sympathetic message. Thank you! The learning support role is most interesting, even if a bit frustrating at times, and I’ll certainly be posting in a few weeks on what I’m learning about the teaching process. As you know, projects go up and down and so I did appreciate the (probably brief) up this past week – I’ll make it last as long as I can. My husband is a sweetie; his only real fault is that he wouldn’t ever blog, but I’ll let that one go 😉 Thank you also for the kind words about the speech – I’ll probably post about it eventually. Last week was a nice one, and I’ll just be happy if I can hang onto the good mood!

  9. So many congratulations, your academic book, your motherhood book, and your wedding anniversary! You and your husband seem like a perfect match, it is so wonderful to send good wishes to such a happy couple. And I am sure you speech will be brilliant!

  10. Congratulations on the anniversary. On the matter of the motherhood book – when I went to hear Katherine Swift speak about her book ‘The Morville Hours’ the other week she said that she was thinking about writing in this area. I don’t know any more than that but it might be useful to see if you can contact her through her publishers and see if you can help each other in any way.

  11. Smithereens – we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t be anywhere else right now. All the cliches about working at it are undoubtedly true, and even if that doesn’t always come easy, the results are certainly worth it! Ann – I just looked up The Morville Hours and it seems to be a fascinating book. I’d love to know whether there are any famous women gardeners who were mothers? It strikes me as a very creative thing to do.

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