Have you no decency? A month into Project Book

The above image has come to symbolize my last month: slightly unhinged in two day old clothes waving research at people who don’t give a damn or understand. Actually that might be a good image to represent my entire academic career.

As much as this blog is being used to throw around ideas for the work I’m working on, I figure I should also use it to talk about the process. And the process is…well the above.

In the spirit of thinking about things positively here are things I have done in the last month:

  • 20, 000 or so new words on paper
  • About 60, 000 words (ok 58, 527 to be exact) pulled from drafts, the PhD and other sources in various states of editing. 
  • Vague structure
  • Interviewed Daniel Kramer and Tony Kushner and lined up a couple of actor interviews. 
(I also had a couple of creative projects that needed groundwork this month, and job applications so it hasn’t been all Angels book all the time)
The rest of the time working on the book has been taken up with emailing, searching and generally crying about the fact that nobody wants to publish it. Hence the above, waving research in two-day-old clothes. 
I never expected it to be easy. Hell I’m a failed academic with no institutional affiliation it was always going to take work. 
The thing is when I speak to people outside the academic bubble they think just the act of attempting this thing is impressive. Sadly inside it I’m the only academic who can’t find a publisher willing to touch her PhD. Everyone manages that. 
And I don’t mean to sound either mean, or conceited but I see far, far more niche things than this work getting published every day. I’m not going to give examples there because everyone’s research is important to someone, and valuable. But what I’m saying is things with a far narrower field of interest get, well interest. 
I’m fairly resistant to the Big Academic Publisher route. Partly because I know it’ll be a long road with a likelihood of failure. But I also don’t have any route into trade publishers either. So where does that leave me? Self-Publishing as an e-book is an option, but if I’m honest, as nice as it would be to have total control, that feels like a final failure in what has been a litany of failures. Couldn’t even get her PhD published what a joke. 
I have such passion for this project- and the wider work that goes with it. And I believe it’s something worth doing. I wouldn’t have kept on this long if I didn’t. But when all I get are road block after road block it’s hard not to believe I won’t always be Louis, throwing papers at a Mormon who doesn’t understand him, or what he’s saying, forever. 
And that’s a bit what I feel. You know when Louis reels off why his parents are disappointed ‘He’s a fag, he’s an office temp, oh look he’s saying Kaddish for Roy Cohn’ Let’s just all agree I feel like Louis a lot of the time. And that’s the other issue, I gave myself a month off before temping. I’m managing to eek that out a little longer. But as another dead-end admin job, a ‘for now’ retail job and temping loom once more, it’s hard not to feel like a failure. I look around and see people advancing in their careers and I seem to be back at square one, yet again. It’s hard to keep momentum. I let myself think, when I walked out of my last admin job that maybe, just maybe this was the last time and things would start to happen. I might finally make progress again. But a month on it’s hard to keep that optimism. 
So what do I want? I want a sense that this IS publishable work, that is is worth carrying on with. I’m not afraid to work hard on it, but if it’s all a pointless exercise when do I give up? 

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

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