Yesterday I met with one of the Literary Fellows at King’s. By all accounts it was a bit of an odd meeting, and not what I (or apparently, she) really expected. I had sent off around 2,500 words of thesis in order to talk about strategies for turning my stunted, sterile, thesisy writing into lovely, flowing, monography prose. That did not happen.
Instead what happened was I walked away feeling more enthusiastic about the book than I have been feeling. Instead of feeling like there is now a huge-amount-of-work and I-haven’t-had-a-break-in-a-long-while, I now feel energised. She also gave me permission not to stop and ‘celebrate’ finishing my PhD, which I really needed someone to give me (although I had not realised that this was what I needed…)
What I came away with was this: on or before November 1st, 2015 I want to have, in my hands, a book* about ways in which life and death are used in archaic and classical Greece, told through the lens of Underworld gods. This is not what my thesis is.
A mess of notes!The session was less practical than I imagined it to be, although we did talk about some of the practicalities of my writing (it’s too negative, and I overuse non-specific words like ‘much’ and ‘many’). What the session was about, more than anything else, was a big-picture look at what my book is going to be about. She forced me to word and re-word my intention until I felt happy with what I was saying, and she broke down some barriers that I had been hiding behind. I think I have always had a bit of an inferiority complex (as if we all don’t in this business, right…), and there is a certain amount of fluffery that goes with that complex (she put it as the ‘no, I’m a real academic!!!’ kind of persona).
Some of the more specific things I got was an idea about where to go with my titles. So far the book is called ‘Underworld Gods in Early Greek Religion’ – very much a does what it says on the tin type title, but she has given me some ideas regarding creating a bit of tension and excitement in the title. I have extrapolated that to chapter titles as well, where previously my titles were things like ‘Hades’ and ‘Persephone’ and ‘Demeter’ (can you see where this is going…) now I am thinking of actually adding a bit more to them. ‘Hades, Lord of the Dead?’ and ‘Demeter’s Rape, Grief, and (In)Fertility’ (these are just things I am playing around with at the moment, so…) I am also thinking of reworking my ‘XX’s Mythic Heritage’ sections into something more like an ancient literature review (although this sounds superficially boring, I think it could be super cool).
And, the best thing is that I have been given permission to experiment and play around with my text. To try things out and see what cool things I can come up with.
And, I needed that!
*actually a manuscript, but she has encouraged me to starting thinking about my manuscript as an actual book as quickly as possible.