New Year

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Snow at my tiny ecology

My first few drafts of this post began with laborious descriptions of the exact contours of my passionate belief in resolutions, but I nixed it. Instead: I have a vivid image of the kind of person/scholar I want to be in 2015. Here are some of the things I’m hoping will help shepherd her in.

Blogging I’ve done some of my favorite writing ever here on this blog, which is great. On the other hand, I’ve had this blog for a year and a half – my first post dates from September of 2013 – and I’ve only posted nine times. That’s not great. I want to spend more time in this space, not only because I find it generative to write for an audience (however imaginary!) and because dissertating is lonely work, but also because there’s a generosity about blogging that I love. Online spaces like In the Middle, Medieval Meets World, and Medieval Karl have hugely shaped my thinking and my writing, both academically and otherwise (indeed, what I love most about these blogs is how they merge the personal and the professional); if I can share anything of value, I feel like I should. Also, I CAN’T EVEN with Twitter.

Writing The great theme of 2015. Everyone in the world says to write every day, and I want to do that in as many venues as I can. Here. My journal. The blog I keep for R’s and my families. My dissertation, probably. On my ancient typewriter, just for the noisy joy of it. Twitter (*sigh*) In addition to all that, I have three conference papers to write and two articles that I’m polishing for possible publication, all of which will give me good practice for my next task…

Style … which is to find – or maybe just unfix? – my writing style. Someone I admire once described my writing as having a certain “grad school creakiness,” which hurt only because of how true it is. There’s a stodginess to my academic voice that I really hate, especially because it’s (weirdly!) mingled with a kind of breathless, italicized, adverb-heavy earnestness. Some of that might be fixed, but maybe I can change some of it by writing a lot, and in a lot of venues. On an even more personal note, I also feel that I’m just beginning to find my sense of style as a human making choices in the world. I want to keep working on that, too.

DC  I’m planning on going on the job market this fall (a whole other thing for a whole other post), which is a reminder that one way or another my time here is almost definitely limited. I love living in DC dearly. I’m writing this from the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress. But there are miles of this city that I barely know, and I’m hungry for more of it, so a major goal for this year is to get out more (even if it’s just to write in assorted coffee shops).

Generosity and Saying No I had this epiphany once where I realized that I was cutting short nearly every conversation I was engaged in, so sure was I that people would get tired of talking to me. Since then, I’ve tried to be more generous, more willing to privilege the benefit of the doubt over my own insecurity. I want to keep that up this year and to cultivate a generous spirit in other ways, too, including by saying no more often. I figure the less spread out I am, the more present I can be, able to give my time and attention when it counts.

Wish me luck, and the same to you. Happy New Year.

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About hayliebswenson

PhD Candidate at The George Washington University, specializing in animals and ecologies across medieval, early modern, and contemporary texts. Currently working on my dissertation, "Precarious Intimacy: Humans and Animals at the Margins of Life," and on Philia: a podcast about the personal passions behind academic work.
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