Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Review of 2011

This is the third annual review I’ve written since setting off on this journey.  One more should see me through to the end, at least as far as submitting my dissertation and preparing for the final viva.  The viva, the ultimate test of whether or not my work stands up to scrutiny, will come in just over a year’s time.  Not too much over, I hope, for I fear that my husband’s patience has its limits.  And so does mine.  After three years, we are both anxious to get our lives back.  Anxious to load up our bikes and find a nice quiet road to pedal down for a few months.  Route 66 sounds good, passing through abandoned Oklahoma towns on the way to the west coast.  So does the northern tier trans-America route as plotted out by the good people at the Adventure Cycling Association – from Bar Harbor, Maine all the way to Anacortes in Washington state.  Or better yet, their Lewis and Clark route which passes right through my hometown.  No detour required.  That would be appropriate, considering I’ve spent much of the last three years reading the expedition journals and pouring over maps of their route.  Though at 3,262 miles long, the ACA route is a couple of thousand miles too short for my taste, so detours would be called for.

Wherever our bikes take us, though, I feel certain that we will travel east to west, for the pull to the west, the pull towards home gets stronger with each passing year.  Like a rainbow trout that’s swallowed a nightcrawler, something is tugging at my insides. If I’m to stop from being turned inside out, I am sure that that is the direction I must go.  Or am I just imagining that’s the case?  Is it simply that I’ve been immersed in the mythologies of the American West so long now that I’ve started to believe they are true?  Have I grown nostalgic on memories from my youth, recollecting the stories of my people for the purpose of writing a book so that I believe what is over still is?  Sure enough, I’m being lured back – I’m allowing myself to be lured back.  It won’t take much for Idaho to reel me in and claim me once more.  But it’s a scary prospect, having spent half my life elsewhere.  What if I moved back and it was different?  What if I moved back and it was the same?

All of that is in the future, though, too far off for me to seriously consider right now while there’s still work to be done. 

Let me just finish what I started here, and look at what I’ve done this past year so that I can reassure myself that I am indeed moving forward (even while contemplating a step back). 

Progress on Dissertation:

  •           40,000 words submitted for the M.Phil. upgrade viva to Ph.D.
  •    Upgrade viva passed in September
  •    Novel: 70,000 words written
  •    Thesis: 16,000 words written

Conferences, Presentations and Events Attended:

  •    Publishing Panel, UoC, 27 April 2011
  •    Writing the Self, UoC, 1 June 2011
  •    The World Through Memoir, UoC, 15 June 2011
  •    Winchester Writers Conference, University of Winchester, 29 June 2011
  •    Historical Fiction with Stella Duffy and Emma Darwin, 22 September 2011
  •    Workshop with Stella Duffy, 25 September 2011
  •    Royal Society of Literature discussion with Sebastian Faulks, 24 October 2011

  •    ‘Cowboys and Clowns’, Moonlight Mesa,  January 2011
  •    Review of Eddie Chuculate’s Cheyenne Madonna, The Short Review, February 2011
  •    Review of Cris Mazza’s Trickle-down Timeline, The Short Review, March 2011 
  •    Review of Belle Boggs’s Mattaponi Queen, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, vol, no 1 spring 2011
  •    Review of Linwood Laughy’s Fifth Generation, Western American Literature, spring 2011

  •    Peer reviewed 1 essay for Short Fiction in Theory and Practice 
  •    Part-time teaching on undergraduate programme at University of Chichester 
  •    Part-time employment as student mentor at University of Portsmouth
  •    Editor of THRESHOLDS Short Story Forum

So, what’s left to be done?

I’m on schedule to complete the first draft of Legacy by the end of March. I’ll then return to my thesis and complete my chapters on Identity and Authenticity, hopefully by the end of June. I’m waiting to hear whether or not my proposal for the Affective Landscapes Conference at the University of Derby has been accepted, but if it has, this should spur me into getting a useable chunk of work completed by mid-May. I’ll be finished teaching, marking and mentoring around the middle of June, and will be just about finished with my work on the website, so I’ll then have a solid three months without distractions (I’ll be lucky) to redraft and polish before getting everything ready to submit in mid-October. Then the viva in January 2013, and barring any major rewrites, off on the bikes as soon as the weather starts to warm up.

How's that then?  Sound like a plan?


Jose Varghese said...

This looks like an inspiring plan to me. I wish I had so much clear planning in my life! Wish you the best, and I'm going to sit down to plan a schedule now :)

Loree Westron said...

Hi Jose,
I'm a great one for making lists. They help to get me motivated because I then want to start crossing things off them. I'm always encouraging the students I mentor to list the activities they need to do in order to complete their assignments, and to cross off each of the tasks as they complete them so they can see the progress they're making and what still needs to be done. And I always insist on physical lists they can pin to the wall - not ones stored on their iphones or laptops as these can be too easy to ignore.

kimberlymadsen said...

I received an email from you in March of 2010 with an invitation to read your blog, which I read just a bit then. I teach composition and literature at a community college in Twin Falls, Idaho, so that it probably why I received your email. We've never met.

I just ran across that email, and I've been rereading your blog. Reading it has been an inspiration and encouragement to me. When I first read your blog, I had begun thinking seriously about finally pursuing my dream of a Ph.D. In spring of 2011, I took a Creative Writing Non-Fiction to test the Ph.D. waters. Since then, I've been admitted to Idaho State University's Ph.D. in English and the Teaching of English program.

Just wanted to introduce myself, and say again that I'm enjoying your blog. Kim

Loree Westron said...

Hi Kim,

Thanks so much for coming back to my blog and getting in touch. It's always great to meet a fellow Idahoan - even if it's via cyberspace. And I really am thrilled if you've found anything I've written here to be an inspiration to you in your own PhD voyage. It's such a massive undertaking but I'm finally beginning to believe I just might get there. And you will too!

Best of luck with it, and do drop me a line to let me know how you're getting on.