Here's the juice: in January I'll be joining Napier University in Edinburgh as a part-time lecturer. For two and half days each week I'll be passing along what I've learned as a writer, reader and editor. Specifically, I've been hired to help teach a new MA in Creative Writing [that launches in September 2009]. Most such courses focus on literary fiction and poetry, but the Napier creative writing MA will be offering something fresh and different.
This course will have genre writing at its core. Crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, screenwriting and more - all are key elements to the new MA. I can't get into all the details here, but will post links to the relevant announcements and offerings when the time comes. Let's just say I'm excited by the opportunities and looking forward to talking about writing for half the working week. Next question: why did I take on a teaching job?
Right now, I write for a living. That sometimes means paying the bills plays too large a part in creative decisions. Given the choice, I'd only write material I want to write - my own stories, my own characters, my own creations. But my career isn't at that point yet. So I do a mixture of journalism, tie-in fiction and other jobs. But these often get in the way of developing my own stories, speculative scripts and novels I'd like to create.
For example, there's a novel I've been itching to write for years. But without a commission I simply can't afford the unpaid downtime required to progress it. There's a feature screenplay I've been mulling over since March, but taking two months off to do that simply hasn't been practical. Every year I promise to write another radio play - every year it gets put aside for commissioned jobs. It's frustrating, always putting off what you want to be doing.
Taking this part-time lecturing position will free me financially. No more hackwork, no more doing jobs to pay the bills. If I take a freelance commission, it'll be because I'm passionate about it. The rest of the time I'll be developing all those stories I've pushed to one side, finally giving them the attention they deserve. It's exciting and scary and different. Will it work? It's too soon to tell now. Come back and ask me again in a year.
After eight and a half years freelancing, some tiny part of me feels guilty for taking a part-time job - as if I'm selling out somehow, taking the easy option - but that's nonsense, of course. [My mother was a teacher, so I've no doubt it's a job that calls for skill and passion and boundless energy.] Every freelance commission is a contract, with a set job to be done within a time frame - so it is with this. Half the week I'll lecture, the rest I'll write.
What does it mean for this blog? Vicious Imagery will continue, but don't expect me to details the ins and outs of life at Napier University here. This blog is mostly about my writing, with occasional blurts into other areas of my life. So shall it remain. Entries will be fewer and further between once I'm teaching, but you can still expect musings and mutterings - my brain needs a place to vent. Anyway, that's the news. Only one left to say: onwards!