Sometimes, life gets a bit bonkers.  This week is my children’s half term.  This time last year we were in Scotland having a few days away.  No such luck this year.  I’ve got too many things to do, and it’s not so much ‘not enough time to do them’ as trouble prioritising.  I have a couple of A-level lectures to finish off, on Henry VII and Charles I, and then there will be handouts and powerpoints to prepare to go with them.  I have to say, I’ve found Charles much more fun than Henry senior and what’s more, working on Charles I has given me an excuse to look at the early Stuart ballads and pamphlets that I’ve avoided up to now. I’ve been enjoying looking at the Early Stuart Libels website.  I found a tune that fits one of the ballads perfectly, so I’ll try to weave that one in somewhere.  It’s been a bit like returning to my roots, in a way, because up until about 5 years ago I’d have described myself as much more interested in the Stuarts than the Tudors, mainly influenced by my own A-level history teacher, Mrs Fuller.  I can vividly remember catching a train to Manchester just before Christmas more than 20 years ago, to go to an A-level study day on the early Stuarts, presumably run by the very same company I’m working for now.  It doesn’t sem possible that I’m now going to be the one standing on the stage as Dr Hyde, talking about Charles I’s character.  The Stuarts might be tricky, but they are undeniably fun!

  This morning I submitted applications for two jobs, neither of them in academe.  One is a temporary teaching position and the other was a job with Lancashire County Council.  I’m not holding my breath.  It’s difficult to find the process of applying for jobs anything other than a rather depressing experience!  This afternoon, I did a bit more work on re-writing my thesis.  This evening, I’m writing a blog post while my children watch ‘Ghostbusters’, having just finished making a pair of bat wings and ears for my youngest to wear to a Halloween party.  Middle child will be out on Saturday evening too (keep your fingers crossed that one of the ghost costumes from previous years still fits), so as my husband will be away, my eldest and I will be sharing chocolate and popcorn on the sofa while I itnroduce him to series 1 of ‘Due South’.  

Yesterday morning I spent writing my Stuarts lecture and then in the afternoon I helped my daughter with a sewing project she’d just decided to launch herself into: “yes mum, I HAVE to do it now”.  At some stage this week I have to sort through all the toys in the children’s bedrooms and get rid of some that are no longer used – not just in time for Christmas, but also in preparation for some work that needs to be done on the house (keep your fingers crossed it’s all done and dusted by Christmas).  On Thursday afternoon I had to drop everything to check the proof for my article for Notes and Queries, which is due out soon.

But while I’ve been doing all that, I haven’t been carrying on with the research for the extra book chapters, nor have I been editing the article on epitaph ballads for Literature Compass.  No matter how much I do, I never feel like I’ve done enough and  there’s always guilt about the pieces I’m not working on.  I am at something of a loss as to how to handle this situation.  I’ve spent several nights in the last few weeks  unable to settle to sleep, not actively worrying but experiencing a vague sensation of panic. I think I’m just going to have to carry on as I am for now, and try to convince myself that I am doing everything I can and what’s more, that what I’m doing actually makes sense.  The A-level lectures have to be the priority because they have a specific deadline.  Job applications jump everything in the queue.  The thesis re-write is handy to break things up when I’m getting tired because it’s a different sort of work that gives my brain a change. It’s important in case an editor decides that they want to see an example of the book, rather than just the proposal.  But very soon the epitaphs article will have to leapfrog that and become the next on the list, as it’s deadline looms at the end of the year.   

I think it’s partly because its different to the PhD.  When I was working on the thesis, everything was a contribution to the same overall aim.  Now, I’ve got lots  of little projects pulling in different directions. I’m grateful that I’ve got so many opportunities.  But I wish I felt a little less overwhelmed. 

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