Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

This morning I was inspired by Wil Wheaton's blog post, "You may ask yourself, 'well, how did I get here?'"

The truth is, I've been feeling pretty positive about things that are happening around me, too. I have great students and I really enjoy teaching the kinds of literature I have the opportunity to teach and my postgrads are working diligently (mostly!) on fascinating projects.

Tomorrow I'm seeing Neil Gaiman (via skype) and Shaun Tan at the Melbourne Writer's Festival before heading over to Aussiecon 4. Having never been to a convention, I'm intrigued and psyched about the experience. I'll be there for a few days. Right now I'm refining my list of sessions to attend - I'm trying to catch some of the Cory Doctorow, Shaun Tan, Ellen Datlow and Paul Cornell sessions, among others. Oh, and on Monday I'm giving a paper in the academic stream. It'll be on Doctor Who and fairy tale. That's about all I can promise at this stage... as I feverishly attempt to finish it. Somewhat literally. I'm really hoping the loss of voice in this morning's class was not a bad sign.

In further positive news, it looks like there will be a fairy tale unit among the offerings for Monash's Winter Semester at Prato. That's right. Next year, I may very well be teaching fairy tales in Tuscany. Fairy tales, gelati, Italian shoes... dreams do come true.

Gustave Doré (adapted)

Keep an eye open for it!

But how did I get to this good place? The truth is, I spent the greater part of my student life avoiding becoming an academic. The irony is not lost upon me. I even ran away to London, where I became a temp from Chiswick (just like Donna Noble), in order to avoid becoming an academic.

It didn't last. I did a MLitt part time, while coming to the realisation that I didn't like working in corporations, and one morning before work, I went down to the food court for a coffee and toast and was planning an essay on the 'Beauty and the Beast' narrative in Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I remember exactly where it happened. I was crossing the road afterward, on my way to the office, and thinking about how Mr Darcy and Beast are pretty much one and the same thing, and it struck me. I could make a career out of thinking these things.

It took me another few years and a few degrees to realise that fairy tale really was 'my thing' (I know, I know... it was obvious from the start... I was blinkered), but now that I have, I'm no longer avoiding being an academic.

The trick, most will agree, is to find a job doing what you love. I love working with fairy tales. So even on days when I'm tired and grouchy because I've been ploughing through marking and paperwork, there is a little voice in the back of my head, saying over and over again:

"You have a career where you spend your time thinking about cats in boots, glass slippers, magic blue boxes, prince charming and falling stars."

No comments: