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.