Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.
In this third installment of the Being Between series, Northern Californian poet, novelist and sociology doctoral candidate Lena Corazon talks about her multiple lives and shares one of her poems.
Even though I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since I was a little girl, I always considered it to be little more than a hobby, something I did for fun. The route of academia seemed far more practical, and so I decided that I would study for a PhD and become a college professor.
I was lucky enough to get my wish. I entered a PhD program in sociology straight out of college, and quickly learned that grad school, like academia itself, is one big juggling act. For the last four years I’ve been student, teaching assistant, and scholar. I slog my way through 300+ pages of reading each week, grade what feels like mountains of assignments, and look for spare time to cram in my dissertation research.
It’s little surprise that during my first couple of years as a grad student, I didn’t pick up a single novel or write one word of fiction. Why? I had a skewed fantasy in my head about what it meant to be a “serious” scholar. Serious scholars, as far as I was concerned, did not prance about in make-believe worlds. Serious scholars didn’t waste time having conversations with imaginary people. Serious scholars did Very Serious Things, like immerse themselves in social theory and write books filled with academic jargon.
But as every writer eventually discovers, the impetus to create cannot be completely suppressed. I’m learning at long last that I am both sociologist and creative writer, a woman with a foot in the world of rationality and theory, and a foot in the wild places of my imagination. There’s no way that I could give up one life for the other. Sociology provides me with the tools to understand social inequalities on a systemic scale and the passion to teach others; writing gives me the opportunity to use my academic knowledge and weave it into fiction.
Somehow, this juggling act has proven successful. Challenges like A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) have helped me to integrate academia and writing, allowing me to set small, achievable goals essential for managing my many interests. Over the last eighteen months I’ve completed my MA thesis and satisfied the requirements to advance to doctoral candidacy. I have four novels in-progress sitting on my hard drive and if things go according to plan, I’ll be ready to publish at least two of them in 2014. That will hopefully be the same year I complete my dissertation, earn my PhD, and hit the job market.
At the moment, I’m enjoying a year’s research leave from the university, so my schedule is more flexible than it has been in a long time. I spend three days a week doing archival research for my dissertation, a study of 19th century Catholic nuns in the San Francisco Bay Area. The rest of the week is split between family, writing, and self-care.
I’ve come to love this space that lies between lives, because it’s only here that I can achieve wholeness.
by Lena Corazon
There are some beginnings that strike the heart with fear,
send it racing with adrenaline,
careening pell-mell, till anxiety steals every word.
But this beginning is simple joy
like a sunlit meadow, or a sea of white daisies waving in the breeze.
This beginning stands at the edge of infinite possibility
a million unmarked pages waiting for that first breath of inspiration,
that first drop of ink.
I spill that ink now, my first offering,
a promise of passion and commitment both,
to allow truth to flow from my pen,
to remember that “in the beginning was the Word”
and that Word brings life to me.
Copyright 2012 Lena Corazon. All rights reserved.