Here I am. Still working at the University of Sydney in the same position - but the position has changed. How has it changed, you ask? I laugh hollowly. Who would know? We are in the middle of a restructure, so there is much that is not clear. This includes the identity of our new Director.
But I have decided I've had enough of this uncertainty, and am now working only three days a week. This decision has meant that I have been able to get some health issues attended to, which has been great. I am not as pressured in the work I do for the Knitters' Guild as the membership secretary, and i get to smell the roses more often. I am very happy with this arrangement.
Last weekend I spent a day at the Writers Centre in Rozelle, listening to loads of people who make their living at writing. This has encouraged me to think of myself as a writer again - since I completed my PhD I haven't found it easy to write systematically. The day was organised by Ben Law, and he did a fine job of selecting writers who were prepared to be honest about the joys and frustrations and practicalities of writing for money. They made me think.
One thing that was really interesting was that most of the panellists (broadcasters, publishers, writers, performers) were under 40, and most of the audience was over... I'll be charitable and say 55, but many of them were much older. There were some younger audience members, but not many. And nearly everyone I spoke to was writing, or wanting to write, a memoir. I suppose when you get to 60 and you've lived through very fast-moving times, as we have, you might feel you've got something to say. But whatever it was they didn't seem able to sum it up for me, so I'll not be holding my breath waiting for their books. Harsh? Maybe. But when someone trundles out a list of grievances that they feel sum up their interesting life I don't feel inspired to make a note of their name. When someone feels that the experience of growing up in Canberra in the 50s should be enough to swing a whole book deal off, I'm not excited (especially when a random person at a festival says "Oh! It would be interesting to reflect on how and why it changed later!" and are met with a blank look). If someone had said that their memoir was going to have a theme of [pretty much anything], I might have stopped to talk. They didn't.
Yes, I'm writing bits of a memoir. And yes, it does have a theme, which I will reveal when I've done some more thinking. And reading. And writing. Which reminds me: One woman asked our lunch table of random strangers whether they were writers or readers. I was the only person who claimed to be both. How can you write if you don't read?