Rebooting this blog!

Contrary to appearances – the last entry on this blog was over a year ago! – I haven’t actually disappeared! However, 2018 has been pretty busy and I seem to have had my fingers in so many pies that blogging has been left by the wayside a bit. I have decided though that I am ready to come back to blogging, and to be a bit more focused about my writing, so this post is to update where I’m at, and where I think I’m going.

Firstly, I now have three different jobs, and I have been really pleased at how well what I am terming ‘poly-working’ is working out for me. I am still doing some health visiting, but I resigned my substantive post at the end of 2017, and am now just doing that 1 day a week as a bank health visitor. This has given me some much-needed flexibility to concentrate on other areas of interest, whilst keeping my hand in with health visiting. This year I have been working at the same health centre where I had my substantive post, which has helped because I knew a lot of the families that I am working with already. From next year I’m not sure what will happen as a new full-time health visitor has been recruited and will be working there from January, but I hope I can still do that day a week or so somewhere.

As well as the day a week health visiting, I have also started a day a week (well, usually two half days) as the new Stroke Research Nurse at our local hospital. This has been a really steep learning curve for me – I last worked in acute care in the very early 2000s, and have since been either in the community or in academia, and things have changed enormously in stroke care since I last had any contact with stroke patients. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the research nurse community online, and a number of very wonderful people, who don’t actually know me from Adam, gave me a huge amount of support and suggestions when I reached out on Twitter prior to my interview. As well as that, since starting in post I have had support from other research nurses in Scotland, including spending a day in Glasgow the other week shadowing the stroke research nurses there, which was incredibly generous of them. I’m planning on blogging more about research nursing when I’m a bit more settled in the job (although I won’t be discussing specific studies that I am involved in recruiting to).

And then on top of that, my transcription business has been doing pretty well and is filling up much of the rest of my time. So far I have done work for people from a number of different universities throughout the UK and Ireland, as well as a bit of non-academic transcription, and am really pleased with the feedback I’m getting on my work. I’m actually really enjoying it, and absolutely loving finding out about all the fascinating research that’s going on out there that I would have no exposure to otherwise. I have a blog post about transcription brewing too, so look out for that in the next few weeks!

On top of all that, what I am really wanting to foreground in the coming year or so is to do more writing, and see if I can add author to my list of ‘things I am and do’. After I left my postdoc position in early 2015, I found that my confidence in my writing ability was pretty low, and having previously blogged regularly for several years beforehand, and written academically too, I have written very little since then. I think it hadn’t really occurred to me that I could do writing that wasn’t academic, and I thought that the end of my formal academic career meant the end of any decent chance at publication. However, over the past couple of years I had the germ of an idea for a children’s book, and I did a weekend creative writing course earlier in the year to explore non-academic writing a bit (that course was led by the very lovely Rachel Marsh). Since then I have been exploring that side of my creativity a bit more, devouring a number of creative writing podcasts (particularly Death of 1000 Cuts by Tim Clare (check out his Couch to 80K writing bootcamp which I found super-helpful), The Bestseller Experiment, and The Creative Penn), trying to get my head round Scrivener, as well as reading as much as I can, both in the genre(s) that I wish to write, and also wider. Of course, all this reading and listening means that finding time to actually write is difficult, and so part of my intention in resurrecting this blog is to get me committed to carving out time to write regularly again, amongst all my work and family commitments.

As far as this blog goes, I started it at the end of my PhD to market myself whilst looking for an academic position (which is what I thought I wanted to do at the time). Now that I’m no longer in that place, I therefore plan on refocusing the blog to write about what I’m doing, and importantly what I’m learning (particularly about research nursing and about the writing process). There might well still be the odd academic-focused post, not least because I have a co-written chapter in a big high-profile book for health professionals coming out early in the new year, but my intention is that my emphasis will change towards the more creative side of writing here. So – watch this space!

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