The End (of the Summer) is Nigh

in academic, fiction, Pop Apocalypse, postirony, Wipe That Smirk Off Your Face

I’m back in San Francisco–blogging from the Que Tal cafe on Guerrero and 22nd. My long summer of traveling is finally at an end.

This has been perhaps my craziest and busiest summer on record. I spent two weeks in Singapore, two weeks in Jakarta, more than three weeks at the Ransom Center at UT Austin, two weeks back in San Francisco, and finally two weeks in New York visiting family and friends. During this time, I’ve managed to be amazingly productive on numerous fronts. That part of my brain that focuses on tasks-at-hand has spontaneously mutated a new ability, apparently, to generate some Ritalin-like chemical that keeps me going. Maybe the life of a self-starting (graduate student) freelancer suits my work habits better than anything I’ve tried before. It beats taking classes and writing seminar papers that do not link up to larger projects.

I found lots of useful material at the Ransom Center. My photocopies of Pynchon, Wallace, Franzen, and Safran Foer letters have come in the mail. I officially began drafting my hipster chapter yesterday (with an aim of having a 60-70 pp. draft by the end of the year).

On top of this official work, I’ve completed a full revision of my novel-in-progress, Pop Apocalypse. I should not discuss the novel here in a space dedicated to my academic pursuits, but it suffices to say that it’s much improved, sentence by sentence. My writing has grown in lots of ways over the last three months, a new plateau among hopefully many more to come. I also have a few possible leads on the next few steps: finding an agent and publisher. If anything happens on the novel-publishing front I may consider starting a dedicated novel-blog or, alternately, converting this blog into something more general, using tags to differentiate among types of content.

Most interestingly, I wonder if in the long term my “official” pursuits (as a literary critic) and my “hobby” (as a fiction writer) may synthesize into some ideal commixture of critic and writer. After all, I was teaching creative writing in Singapore and Indonesia and, frankly, helping kids write their own fiction was the most enjoyable and successful teaching experience I’ve ever had, bar none. And also after all, there’ve been denizens of Academe’s Groves who’ve successfully combined these two job functions into one person. Why not me? Whether or not this path will be part of my future remains an open question. To achieve this synthesis successfully would fulfill one of my most deeply-held dreams.