2013: Year in Review

So it’s the 31st of December and I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. I also can’t believe how much stuff I’ve managed to do this year, and how many changes I’ve made, both personal and professional. Although I haven’t really blogged much (something I need to change next year – see below!) I thought I’d write a summary of what exactly I’ve been up to and how the year has gone.

Perhaps two of the biggest things were starting a new job and starting a new relationship, within a month of each other! I got promoted back in May so I’m now a communications and marketing officer, with a focus on social media. It’s a very busy job because we’re a fairly small team with a very large portfolio, and already I’ve worked at several events, including awards ceremonies and a 5 day stint in Birmingham for The Skills Show. I’m thoroughly enjoying it though, even if we seem to veer between busy and extremely busy, with not much time to relax and catch up on things like paperwork in between!

In June I somehow fell into a relationship with a friend I’ve had for 10 years. Neither of us expected it but it turns out we’re pretty well suited to each other and so far we’ve spent pretty much every weekend together. Which may be having a tiny effect on where my free research time is going… He’s interested in my research though, although he’s totally new to fan studies and actually works in a totally different field. I find myself having to defend my research a lot, but defend in a good way. He’s very good at seeing potential holes in what I’m working on and questioning me as to why I think certain things and what evidence I have to back them up. And it’s nice to have someone else – someone new to the theories and research – to toss ideas around with. It also helps that he’s a massive geek though he’s never seen The X-Files (I know, right?!) so we share lots of geeky in-jokes and buy each other things like sonic screwdriver remote controls for Christmas.

So those are the two big personal things that have happened in 2013. In academic news I’ve apparently done a lot more than I thought I had! I had my first co-edited journal published, on the Fifty Shades trilogy, am in the middle of co-editing two others which will hopefully come out next year and the year after, co-organised my first conference which went very successfully, presented at a lot of other conferences (including my second international one, in Amsterdam), and signed my first book contract as editor! I’ll be co-editing a collection on crowdfunding which will be coming out with Peter Lang hopefully in 2015. I’ve also had a couple more journal pieces and book chapters published, including a chapter on femslash in Anne Jamison’s collection Fic, engaged in some very interesting conversations on Twitter and made a lot of new friends and colleagues. I’m trying to keep as much of my work as possible open access, so the bulk of my papers can be found on my academia.edu profile.

I also got to meet Neil Gaiman and thank him for his work, which has made a big impact on me and led to me writing perhaps my most terrifying piece of work to date – The Third Alternative. The reason this piece was the most scary is because its about my struggles with depression and self harm, and that’s a pretty taboo topic even for anyone not currently a PhD student (where mental health generally isn’t discussed). But I wrote it and published it, and all the responses I’ve seen were positive and (sadly) empathetic. It angers and saddens me how many people deal with mental health issues and how there’s such a barrier around discussing it. I think writing The Third Alternative was a good thing, and at some point I’ll write my thoughts on the process of writing and publishing it.

Of course, along with all the good stuff there are things I need to improve upon and change in 2014. Chief among these is my time keeping! I’m by no means the only PhD student to work full time while studying part time, and I need to get back into the habit of getting home from work and doing PhD research in the evening. I know that once I start I really enjoy it, I just need to remind myself how much I enjoy it and dive straight in instead of putting it off. I also need to get better at getting work to my supervisor. I’m very lucky in that I’ve got a supervisor who understands that my job is busy and that some times I won’t be able to meet deadlines we’ve agreed on, but I do need to pull my finger out and, tied to the last point, get on and do stuff instead of procrastinating over it. Finally – where time keeping is concerned – I need to blog more. There’s been so much happening in fandom and fan studies this year that I haven’t written about here and I must get into that habit. I need to remind myself that blog posts don’t necessarily have to be these amazingly researched, fully reference pieces. They can be my off the cuff thoughts, a place for encouraging dialogue and throwing ideas around with people. And I do that on Twitter so it makes sense to follow it up here. So for blogging and academic stuff, time keeping and writing more is key for 2014.

I’m also going to go to the cinema and read more often (hopefully anyway). I’ve watched and thought about a lot more TV this year, including catching up on Game of Thrones, though I didn’t see as much in the cinema as I’d have liked to – I missed Man of Steel, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Thor 2, and still haven’t seen the second Hobbit or Catching Fire. I also haven’t read as much (fiction) as I’d have liked to – I actually still have the latest Terry Pratchett sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read. So making time for reading, film watching and creative writing, if possible, is high on my list too.

Regardless of all the plans and hopes for next year though, 2013 has been a damn good year for me. I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done and the time I’ve spent with friends. I’ve enjoyed talking to you all and introducing people to fan studies. I hope 2014 is as good as 2013 has been, and I wish you all a very happy, successful and relaxing new year.

Cheers.

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