Academia into another profession

So how have I fared shifting from teaching for about 13 plus hours per week to a 40 hour ‘creative’ job as a writer? It has gone relatively smoothly. Here are a few observations for those who may be contemplating a similar shift:

1) Does my job have a direct relevance to my research and vice versa? Have the last 5 or 6 years of research been useful in my everyday job? To a large extent, yes. One of the aspects of my PhD that garnered strong positive feedback from my examiners was the way I theorised the cultural role of magazines in the scene of modified-car culture. Essentially I have been working in such a way to test some of the hypotheses regarding dispositifs and discourse, this is ongoing. It extends beyond mere intectual curiousity, as my work has helped me in a concrete fashion when speaking with owners of cars and organisers of car shows. This shall be the subject of the next academic article I want to write. One is with reviewers and another is in draft stage, both of which deal with ‘enthusiasm’. An article on the subcultural media is needed.

2) The ‘dailyness’ of the job. David L. Andrews chapter “Sports Page: A Case Study in the Manufacture of Sports News for the Daily Press” in _Critical Readings: Sport, Culture and the Media_ is something of a guide here. Nothing to do with the explicit content. I am working on two monthly and one bi-monthly magazines, the book chapter examines the pressures of the daily sports pages. What Andrews demonstrates however, is a capacity to critically reflect on his daily practice. Every job has rhythms that correlate with different responsibilities and tasks. As a staff writer, essentially the lowest ‘creative’ rung in the magazine industry, I don’t have to make decisions on the overall shape of the magazine. My dailyness takes on the character of the grind.

3) Do I have more time? I think I may do once all my marking is finished. Time is money and I am spending big at the moment trying to do two fulltime jobs. I have gotten a bit sick over the last few days, part of this is the change of season in Sydney and part of it is only getting six hours of sleep each and every night and basically driving or working the rest of the time. If I only get one day on the weekend to write up my articles, then this is one extra day I have for writing that I didn’t have when teaching.

4) How much work is my new job? It is a different sort of job of course, but I am still producing a prodigious amount of material. The publisher of motoring magazine told me after a few days that they were happy with me because I produced good clean copy, which is what they expected. I have so far worked on 6 separate magazine issues across three titles. I have written about 18 articles. As a freelancer I would’ve got paid between $400-500 for each. I have been doing about 1.4 per day, so they are extracting roughly $1500 worth of surplus value from me per week compared to casual rates. That is surplus value, so after fixed capital costs and other variable capital costs that impact on my job. They are getting their money’s worth.

5) Is it actually creative? I can propose ideas and I have already had my editor say, “Another idea!” But on a smaller scale, every ‘angle’ or discursive posture I assume when writing captures a different perspective of the car and of the project or ‘build’ or whatever. I literally create sense (pun intended); that is, in both the actual writing and inscribing (car) bodies into discourse, and in the sense of differentially repeating the discourse itself by creating further artifactual infrastructures. They also seem to have a policy of allowing you to work on other projects if they do not compete with the magazine. Although I need to officially confirm this; but it looks good in terms of my book and academic article writing.

Essence vs Event: “I love a challenge.”

(Stolen from BB.) Stanford Magazine reports on the applications from psychological research Carol Dweck’s work, which uses careful experiments to determine why some people give up when confronted with failure, while others roll up their sleeves and dive in.

Through a series of exercises, the experimenters trained half the students to chalk up their errors to insufficient effort, and encouraged them to keep going. Those children learned to persist in the face of failure—and to succeed. The control group showed no improvement at all, continuing to fall apart quickly and to recover slowly. These findings, says Dweck, “really supported the idea that the attributions were a key ingredient driving the helpless and mastery-oriented patterns.” Her 1975 article on the topic has become one of the most widely cited in contemporary psychology.
Attribution theory, concerned with people’s judgments about the causes of events and behavior, already was an active area of psychological research. But the focus at the time was on how we make attributions, explains Stanford psychology professor Lee Ross, who coined the term “fundamental attribution error” for our tendency to explain other people’s actions by their character traits, overlooking the power of circumstances. Dweck, he says, helped “shift the emphasis from attributional errors and biases to the consequences of attributions—why it matters what attributions people make.” Dweck had put attribution theory to practical use…

…[S]ome of the children who put forth lots of effort didn’t make attributions at all. These children didn’t think they were failing. Diener puts it this way: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’” During one unforgettable moment, one boy—something of a poster child for the mastery-oriented type—faced his first stumper by pulling up his chair, rubbing his hands together, smacking his lips and announcing, “I love a challenge.”

Such zest for challenge helped explain why other capable students thought they lacked ability just because they’d hit a setback. Common sense suggests that ability inspires self-confidence. And it does for a while—so long as the going is easy. But setbacks change everything. Dweck realized—and, with colleague Elaine Elliott soon demonstrated—that the difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery-oriented children are really hell-bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals.”

Meme: Fail!

Here are the rules:
* Mention the rules on your blog.
* Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
* Tag six other
* Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that lets them know they are tagged.

Got tagged by Mayhem. WASSUP!?!?!?

Quirky yet boring…? But I am never boring! FAIL!

1) Most of the time I prefer my own company.
2) I feel good reading over stuff I wrote years ago.
3) I didn’t figure out that the feeling in my tummy region was hunger until earlier this year.
4) I read ‘theory’ for fun. Currently it is Althusser, Derrida and Marx.
5) I have an awesome idea for a movie based on my novel that has gone nowhere for 5 years and will pitch it when I get to interview a famous Australian actor, or at least i think I have an awesome idea for…
6) To the disgust of every person I have ever been intimate with, I enjoy picking at my toenails (in a day dreamy kind of way, not hand cuffed to the bed kind of way).
7) I love kangaroo meat! FAIL!

Hmmm, I’ll link to three people. FAIL!

John, Mark and Mel.

No bonus points for being honest

Marking again. Working full time and marking sucks. Marking like a bastard to get it done before marks are due in. Like a BASTARD! I take a 2nd/3rd year essay with me wherever I go in case I get stuck in a queue or something and can mark for simple thing like punctuation, structure, etc. I’ve got a week left to do it all.

Just had one of my first year students answer a question that asked them to “comment on the intersection of [two theories]” exemplified by a newspaper article they were given two weeks before the exam.

The student’s first line is: “I’m not sure there is much to comment on the intersections between [two theories].” [sic]

Oh dear…

EDIT: Later the same day…

Just had another cracker.

Part of the question: “In your answer, refer to how the construction of the religious ‘other’ might be functioning in…”

Part of the answer: “The religious ‘other’ can be described as any religion who on the census form would need to choose the ‘other’ box due their religion not being one of the options.” [sic]

Oh dear…

EDIT 27/11/08: Still marking. Another cracker, made me chuckle!

“Two types of globalisation — I’ve forgotten Damn! But 1: creates no individualism. Takes away ‘rights’ and we all becoming one. The other is the opposite.” [sic]

Yep…