Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Let me begin by moaning....

I have become aware that many people do not regard me as being a ‘proper writer’. This is partly because it has been a long time since I published anything in print; with the result that you can not pick up my work in a local bookshop or read a review of it in the Sunday newspapers. It is also partly because I have chosen to use computers in my writing practice.

You would have thought that I would have been hardened to this kind of slight by now. For I have lost count of the years that I have been writing poetry and this too seems to qualify one as for the status of bogus writer; mainly because poetry is for the most part a local, small-press activity in the UK. However, I have been surprised at the additional prejudice one meets from conventionally-minded individuals when it comes to work that is presented via the Internet. For example, I was particularly piqued when it was brought to my attention that my work (and that of many other practitioners as well) was being damned without even being read by a literary panellist deliberating on a funding application.

It is something of an irony, therefore, that I have been made aware that I am not regarded by some as being a proper ‘new media’ artist either. This might be because I have yet to scale the heady heights achieved by a number of very skilled artists working in this area. However, this might also be because I am not particularly interested in producing work that comments on the medium or the technology. Instead, it is my intention that my work appeals to a larger constituency of readers beyond the net cognoscenti.

I genuinely believe in the social quality of meaning-making. I also believe in education and outreach work; which is why I spend some of my time teaching and giving talks about electronic literature to audiences that have never heard of the stuff. This does not mean that I am dismissive of conception of media art; simply that I believe that it is not a wholly adequate end in itself. Does this invalidate my work?

So where does this leave me? Betwixt and between? I certainly hope not…because this is a state that I find myself in with so many parts of my life!

I have been pursuing a practice-based PhD for the last three years. I am finding out that here, at the end of the process, that I am neither a theorist nor a practitioner. In fact, I find myself having to defend my time management from legitimate criticisms from both camps. I have had to divide my time between these two activities and this has meant that I have had to compromise on a number of issues. I have not had time to read as much theory as a theorist; or had time to produce as much work as a practitioner. It takes time to learn how to produce computer-mediated art; but it also takes time to learn why one should produce it as well.

I suspect I will feel better about the type of education I received during my time as a PhD student when I have completed my work. However, I also suspect I will continue to be alarmed at my prospects for the future. Do I have a role? What exactly are the career prospects for an academic non-writer who is stuck betwixt and between?

I have a strong feeling that I am not alone in this quandary.

Does any of this ring true to you?
I would be very interested to hear about your experiences of being betwixt and between.


Blogger jumping jack said...

Am I being to sour puss? Am I in the Pits of PhD Hell? Let me know...I would genuinely like to hear form you!

12:39 PM  

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