Here we are now, in a strange & beautiful galaxy for the first time. After negotiating my job offer for a long & grueling week (where I constantly doubted myself & worried about tenure track horror stories of rescinded offers by small religious liberal arts colleges) & then waiting a long & torturous month for my contract to finally arrive via express mail, I can now finally say that I’ve accepted an offer to be the new assistant professor of English & creative writing at Bowling Green State University, starting in August.Read More
The Western canon has no objective nomination process, which is why it is both axiomatic and controversial. Literature written by (and often for) white writers is still treated as classic, crucial, and central to our literary archive, codifying a clear but tacit anglonormativity. But why have APIA voices been erased from the so-called “Great Books” for so long, and how should APIA writers respond to this longstanding erasure?Read More
A second, more obviously strategic reason not to tell people where you applied for an academic job is because there's always a chance---even in the digital information flow---that they don't know about that specific job + if you tell them, you're just increasing the competition for yourself (because most of your academic + creative writing friends are at least as brilliant and talented as you are), which is the last thing you want to do.
On no level do you want your friends, colleagues or talented classmates from your cohort to fail. You just want to succeed really badly + not advertising academic jobs to other people places the burden of researching academic jobs + multitasking dissertations and job searches on other people, where it belongs. Still, it feels kinda shady sometimes because normally, I'd tell everyone everything (as I pretty much do on this website) because I want all my friends to be enormously successful because they're good people.
Anyway, the rejection letter I got today addressed to "Dear Candidate," which is never a good sign, said that Hamilton College received 350 applications for this one single position! Let that sink in for a second. 350 applications. That's fucking insane. But from what I'm gathering from reading articles in the Chronicle, among other places, is that as universities hire less + less tenure track faculty (employing more adjuncts to cut costs now that universities are being run more like corporations), the competition for the few tenure track positions that pop up has become unwieldy, overwhelming + even bloodthirsty.
Obviously I don't know shit about what's gonna happen for me in the near future. All I know is that I've applied to 36 academic jobs + fellowships so far in 14 different states (both tenure track + visiting assistant professorships), which does not include all the query emails I sent to every single CW department at every single Chicago university two years ago. I still have 3 more fellowships to apply to in addition to every new CW academic I can find between now + May of 2014. Of those 36 jobs I've applied to so far, I'm still waiting to hear from 26 of them. I'm also waiting to hear back from 3 literary agents + 4 indie presses reading my first two novels in addition to something like 75 literary journals.
In other words, I don't have a damn clue what's gonna happen with my academic or literary career, but barring some statistical anomaly, the exit polls show that this is gonna be a tight race, ladies + gentlemen. I'm an eternal optimist. I believe that something amazing can happen in a blink of an eye. But it's good I guess that I ground my expectations on data + fully understand how brutal this fight is gonna be. Hamilton's rejection might be a microcosm of hurt, so I may need to build my weight up.
Kartika Review about the last days of my Japanese obāsan's life + her battle with dementia.
I finished my dissertation + became a doctor!
I finished playing Bioshock Infinite on both medium + hard levels (not 1999-I kept running out of $$$). And maybe, just maybe, I had a small crush on Elizabeth. I also fucking loved the quantum mechanics narrative at the end, which was brilliant.
So yes, by all means, I've had a few seminal moments in my life since the beginning of 2013, some of them huge, others simply fun + self-defining. But the problem with getting your PhD (if getting a PhD can be a problem) is that you go from have a clear-cut path for 4-6 years (4 in my case) with guaranteed funding, amazing conversations in + outside seminar + a sense of purpose, you get to vaporize a shitload of life-changing novels (which you can't really appreciate because you're reading them too fast), evolve intellectually, work with some of the best fiction writers + scholars in the whole damn world, live in a cool (+ totally unsustainable) city like LA + exist in a perfectly linear trajectory for all of grad school.
But now what? I just went from one of the most pivotal moments in life ("I'm so awesome!") to being unemployed ("I'm so sad!). I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life to having no idea what I'm doing, from having enough cash to buy so many books + posthipster clothes my heart could almost burst, to being gradually poorer, from hoping for the best situation with academic jobs to considering the crappiest comp jobs you could imagine at the lowliest community colleges, just to get by. It's something you don't wanna think about while you're pounding away on your dissertation because you can't even think straight when you have a soft deadline for your thesis defense + a hard deadline for submitting your dissertation to the Graduate School for formatting. But once you're done with all that, you look around + you go: fuck, now what do I do?
Don't get me wrong. I'm an eternal optimist. I believe in people. I believe in myself. I believe that good things will happen. I could get a literary agent next week. My second novel could be accepted for publication by an indie publisher next month. My collection of short stories could be accepted for publication sometime in Autumn. I could get an email for an interview for one of the many academic jobs I applied to, like tomorrow. But the thing is, my life as an aspiring literary fiction writer + professor-to-be is one big contingency plan, a perpetual lesson in professional + existential uncertainty. Things can work out. I believe things will work out. But right now, I have to say it kinda blows.