This Sunday Circle is an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here). I don’t get to it every week, but this is one of them, so here goes.

What am I working on this week?

I’m marking this week, and when that’s done I’m developing a new course for second semester at UQ. In the background, I’m subconsciously going over the several weeks of academic work on the neural underpinnings of reading stories, and trying to make sense of what is a huge, complicated and sometimes frustratingly muddled discussion around brain science and narrative.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’m taking inspiration from the You Are Not So Smart podcast episode 100, which had the tagline, “Science is wrong about everything, but you can trust it more than anything.” See, my PhD confirmation readers took significant issue with me using a scientific approach to understanding stories. I was challenged as to why I was “privileging science” (I don’t think I was, but anyway), and the approach was called variously crude, overreaching, and ignoring the “rich traditions” of literary criticism/theory. Despite the fact that neither of my readers have to my knowledge a background in science (or creative writing that much) I was really taken aback to find such hostility towards a scientific approach. I’m coming at this in a spirit of cooperation, interested to see what science might support (or challenge) in traditional literary fields. I’m interested in the fundamental “why” questions that I think only science can robustly begin to answer. And yet, I can’t help feel very much out of place in my faculty. So that podcast is inspiring because it acknowledges science has limitations – of course it does – but that doesn’t make it useless. Evidence is quite to the contrary. So, onward I go.

What part of my project am I avoiding?

I’m avoiding (legitimately) the big edit of my next women’s fiction novel, The Lucky Escape. I must begin next week, and it will need a lot of work (as my first drafts always do). I can hope it isn’t as bad as I imagine, but that isn’t always true. Hopefully I can subconsciously summon courage along with everything else.

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