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Being honest with oneself

I can’t believe we are already at the start of September, and that it’s been quite a few months since my last update! I can honestly say that a lot has happened so far this year and my writing journey has had a few hurdles along the way. Not all of these hurdles have been unpleasant, that’s for sure. The wedding in March was obviously a highlight, and in July/August we enjoyed two weeks in New York City for our honeymoon, which was just a dream come true!

Something I have recently had to reassess was my reasons for continuing an Honours in creative writing when my brain was screaming at me in displeasure about having to do it. Although I still love reading historical fiction and had the bare bones of what I thought would make an interesting story, being faced with all the research around the history versus fiction debate, postmodernism and new historicism (and other –isms) was overwhelming and a constant weight on my shoulders.

I was left recalling why it was I enrolled in Honours in the first place. Keeping in mind that I’ve been doing this part time and have deferred a couple of times, I had to think back to 2014. I was in a very different place in 2014. I was in a job I wasn’t enjoying, I wasn’t doing any writing whatsoever, and I was single. So I prioritised an Honours degree to give me a focus for my writing, and something that I wanted not just to pass but to do well enough in so that I could go on to do a PhD, with a view to going on to become an academic and do research at the university (not that there are many jobs around, but this was my goal).

I had to face the reality that I was just not that person anymore. I am now married and wanting to start a family, am in a job I generally enjoy, and knowing I had all this research to do was making me procrastinate from doing any writing rather than encouraging it. My thesis was no longer making me happy, and my heart was no longer in it.

I’m not someone who normally gives up on things, certainly not academically, and so, with some help from my amazing cousin and following some chats with family and friends, I made what was a difficult decision for me. I decided to withdraw from university altogether, and leave this Honours incomplete.

It’s been a funny feeling. The argument I had with myself was about the amount of time and energy I have spent on this so far, and how I am so close to finishing. But I had to ask myself why finishing was so important to me. Was the certificate at the end of it worth the next eight weeks of struggle? Was a simple pass sufficient? After much reflection, I found the answer was ‘no’.

There was a little bit of shame (self-inflicted) to begin with, but overall I am feeling relieved. I’m also looking forward to all the reading for pleasure I can now do without feeling guilty about not reading research, and want to set myself some realistic writing goals so I can get off my butt and get into the habit of writing every day. One question that always comes to my mind when I think about writing every day is ‘what do writers do on those days when they don’t have a clue what to write about?’

So, that’s a bit of an update from me. And I guess a bit of self-therapy by writing this out. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to re-assess long-term goals, as personal values and personal situations can change over time, and a change in priorities is not a bad thing. And it’s okay to say no to things that have lost their spark. At least, in my view it is.

I leave you with just one photo from NYC – the New York Public Library.

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  1. It takes a lot of courage and self-knowledge to change direction in life like that. It sounds like you’ve made the right decision. As for writers ‘having to write every day’, I have previously beaten myself up so much about this ‘requirement’. Some days it’s just not possible, or I’m definitely not in the right frame of mind to write. I’ve learnt to let myself off the hook when this happens and catch up on social media, or read, or pop in to other people’s blogs and say hello (yes, I’m having one of those days today!)
    Best of luck with your change of direction and focus. May lots of good come from it.

    • Melinda Kovac Melinda Kovac

      Thanks for your kind words Marie, and for the insight into the non-writing days. I must admit this unwritten ‘rule’ just fuels my procrastination 😀

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