Monday Notes: Lesson Learned from Publishing an Academic Book

Ever since I graduated with a PhD in August of 2010, I felt like a failure. This isn’t to say I awoke every day and beat myself up about my lot in life, but rather, every time the academic year would begin, I’d be in a physical and psychological slump. It was an energy thing.

It began when I attained my first job at Georgia College and State University in Middle Georgia. Though the actual job was ideal, the location and circumstances were not. Middle Georgia is racist, both explicitly and implicitly; living there was like a step back into the 1950s or 1850s; take your pick. Also, my degreed and experienced husband was never able to get a job there, so we agreed to live apart and see each other on the weekends.

Two years later, a colleague sent me a temporary job at Florida State University, which I applied and interviewed for and took. They “loved me so much” there that they eventually hired me for what I thought was my dream job, a tenure track, assistant professor position in English Education. The problem was again two-fold: institutionalized racism existed and I’d chosen to commute 360 miles so that our family could live together.

Some people can deal with blatant institutionalized racism; I am not one of them. Three years later, I’d decided all of it was too much. I accepted a job elsewhere making twenty thousand dollars less and teaching more classes that weren’t in my niche. The first day of orientation I sat in the bathroom stall and cried. Then, I went to take my ID photo. To this day, my picture shows me as a red, puffy-eyed, hot-ass mess.

I’d failed. But I kept doing all things academic.

At first, I presented at conferences and published in academic journals just in case. I knew I’d need to show my scholarly worthiness just in case I wanted to attain another job at a different type of institution.

“Are you sure you’re done with academia?” one of my colleagues emailed after asking if I wanted to be nominated for some national platform situation.

He and others ignored my answer and continued to co-write and push me on the path we’d all begun.

I published at least once a year and eventually became the chair of a special interest group.

You may be wondering, like my cousin, how someone like me could feel like a failure. Let me tell you. It’s easy to do when you have a strict plan for your life.

When I graduated in 2010, life was laid out. I would find a job as an English Education professor at Prestigious X University. Five years later, I’d be associate professor. Five years after that, full professor. All the while, I’d be publishing my ass off and presenting research all over the world. It’s easy to let yourself down when you’ve got your whole life figured out.

So, each year I wallowed in a slump, while preparing for a just in case situation.

Life became clearer around November 2018. That’s when I met three ladies at a conference in Houston. We each presented our work, which was related to sports media, critical literacy, and diversity.

Afterwards, one of the women said, “We should write something together.”

In January 2019, Lexington Books emailed me with interest in turning my presentation into a book idea. I want to repeat that. I didn’t seek them out. They emailed me. Consequently, I suggested to the other three women that this be the “something” we write together: a book. That led to us creating a call and inviting others to join us.

This month, our book, Stories of Sport: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination will be released.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Everything is made up, and we can do ourselves a disservice living within made-up rules. Part of the reason I felt like a failure was because I couldn’t see any other way to be a scholar other than what I was told and shown. Those made-up rules clouded my judgment and created my own idea of so-called failure.

Everything is made up, and we can do ourselves a disservice living within made-up rules.

kegarland

I didn’t need to work at X University to attain a book deal. I didn’t need to follow a specific trajectory to publish as a scholar. All I needed was to trust my path and do what I enjoyed…writing.

Oh, and I secured tenure at my current institution. It turns out that’s not as important as I thought, either.


Purchase Stories of Sports: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination and use the code LEX30AUTH21 to receive 30% off.

72 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Lesson Learned from Publishing an Academic Book

  1. Just this morning I was thinking: F* the rules (not the laws), I can create anything I want.
    A piece of paper (diploma/certificate) will not make someone an expert. Knowledge does. Experience does. Insight does. Understanding does. You have that all, dear Katherin. So keep walking your path!
    (while I will keeping walking mine 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your book and on your tenure! My career never quite launched, so if anyone should be labeled a failure, it’s me. Fortunately, I feel like a true success because I am so much more than what I do, it ‘s all about being who I am. You, my dear, are BRILLIANT in EVERY way and a great inspiration to us all!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Isn’t it funny how we can think of ourselves as failures just because our lives didn’t follow the path we had thought? I struggled with this for many years too, until I realized that there is more than one way to be successful and many, many, ways to be fulfilled. I’m glad you persevered, (but hate that you were driven away from two institutions due to racism, that shouldn’t happen to anyone), and wrote your book and got tenure. The way your share your story so openly inspires so many of us, and I hope your really do know what a valuable gift that is!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ann, it’s ridiculous how our minds make up stuff and we just roll with it and (sometimes) stay miserable in that thought.

      Thank you for these kind words. My understanding of my true gifts is growing 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a powerful post, Katherin! I found it so interesting to learn about your path and the false beliefs you discarded along the way. That is truly a metaphor for life, isn’t it? We start out with all kinds of ideas and if we’re lucky, we follow our intuition and embrace new ideas.
    I’m so glad for where you ended up.
    And of course, we could both write posts about watching our children go down their own paths. For me, it has been incredibly interesting and filled with surprises!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! It’s like you’re (or at least I am) constantly reevaluating and tossing or keeping bits of information. But I guess that’s also a form of growth, maybe.

      Judy, you already know we can write a book about children and paths lol In fact, I’m posting something about that very topic around Mother’s Day…it’s called Parenting from the Heart 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations, you are Inspiring. Two important takeaways: don’t allow other’s judgements or rules define or restrict you. Embrace your success even if it’s not what you previously told yourself success would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘I am a failure’ and ‘Everything is made up’ – I relate to these statements very clearly at 2 different times in my life. The second statement made it all very easy to align myself to my personal purpose and my way forward. I don’t have much to claim as achievement yet I am content because I don’t measure myself in the made up world. Your post affirmed my choices and is inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Failure?!

    Just imagine submitting your dissertation, and being offered a Master’s of Philosophy instead of the Doctorate: that is failure…

    But I get it -imposter syndrome is especially strong sometimes. You, Dr. G., do not merit to feel like a failure. You succeeded and continue to succeed.

    “I’d failed. But I kept doing all things academic.”
    Hey, same here, except that I really had failed, but I kept trying, anyway! LOL! Hard-headedness?

    I think that you are right about the constructs that we human beings build at all levels to applaud and award ourselves within our little(er) hierarchies.
    As Octavia Butler said, in her Imago series: we human beings are woefully hierarchical, and dangerously competitive about it, to boot.

    But thank you for making a difference and for encouraging the rest of us to do so, too.
    -s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, and several people told me that my main advisor totally dropped the ball. I wrote my dissertation, kept asking him to read my chapters, and every time we met he’d have an excuse for not reading my work. I finally submitted and then my panel told me that the methodology was biased. Since I was self-funded, and he never helped me find any funding, I had to just submit and accept the Mphil. An Mphil is respected (especially from the University of Bath) in the UK and some of Europe, but not here stateside.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, it was terrible, sorry to bother you with it. If I’d had the energy and the resources I might have done more about it, but as it was, I just didn’t. The department chair was his wife!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s no bother. I’m just angry FOR you. You know if that happened in the States, you would’ve either gotten a degree or a lawsuit, but I mean the US is very litigious 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. True. But, I still published some journal articles, gave talks on my topic, and tried to use those tools to do something good, I hoped. Actually, it got me blacklisted, so I don’t know if the PhD would have been much better for me.
        I admit to being pretty stunned when I found out why I wasn’t getting jobs.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your quote, which sums things up perfectly: “Everything is made up, and we can do ourselves a disservice living within made-up rules.” Sometimes we need to break out of the mold and play our own game by our own rules. If you are supporting yourself by doing what you love, BRAVO. Fancy degrees and tenure are beside the point. I’ve won prizes for my poetry and writing and the thrill was very short-lived. I was like, OK, moving right along, what am I gonna do next? The real thrill is in the writing itself, the creation of a piece that says exactly what I want it to say and resonates with other people. I’m sure you know that feeling, KE. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What you say here is so true. I told someone last month that the tenure thing, kind of like the PhD thing, was very anticlimactic. You know? It’s like you wonder where the parade is. There is none lol So, you have to learn to do things because you want to do them, not for the next award, like you’ve mentioned. I totally get it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fame and fortune are empty prizes. I’d rather be writing than watching a parade in honor of my writing. The greatest reward is feedback from readers who were touched or inspired by my work. So when I am touched or inspired by a piece of writing, I make it a point to let the writer know. You are one of my favorite bloggers because you are willing to say what all of us think but no one else says, to start a dialogue on many sensitive topics, to provide a non-judgmental space to discuss and learn. Thank you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It breaks my heart to hear you say that you ‘failed’ when it was really others who failed to accept the beautiful way God made you. Thank you for sharing your story, and best of luck with your book! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow! literally, a life which taught you everything… It’s really inspiring for those who are graduated or they’re about to be or just for students. You seriously inspire me every time you post something, I’m planning to do my college in US only so I guess if I ever come there I’ll try to meet you but after 5 yrs or so?! I’ve to wait😊
    Congratulations on the book ✨🎉 It’ll be great!
    and racism does exist, we all have to fight for with our situations and face them with courage, you did well! if I face them, I’ll fight too…..<3
    Have a great day 🙂 and keep inspiring people like me who are just finding their way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Khushi! Where in the States (what university) do you plan to come to? That’s pretty exciting, and if we’re still connected here, I’d love to meet up…fingers crossed ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always welcome ma’am! That thinking is still going in my mind that which University I’ll choose 😊 and my parents will also help me decide but, I also hope that we’ll be connected here till that time and meet up someday… My fingers are also crossed💕🤞🏻

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Congrats on the publication. I’m sorry to hear about all the racism you’ve been through in Georgia even though it permeates all over America. I can certainly relate and there were times that I wasn’t aware of the implicit aspects (dog whistles, low-key insults, etc). F the haters, and keep on being you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your support. It’s just a weird feeling, you know? It definitely permeates all over the country (and world). Lol thank you for those great words at the end 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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