Who am I?

When meeting new people, I’m often asked What do you do? For the last three years I’ve been able to say that I’m a PhD Student. I’ve been able to say that I’m a scholar. But now I’m struggling with that identity. I’m struggling with who I am.

The last time someone asked What do you do?  I answered that I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer before – but before I was a technical writer. Professionally I was both a technical writer and an instructional designer. But I don’t feel like that is where I’m at today. My PhD studies have made me more of a researcher, an innovator, and a writer. I’m now more familiar with writing in different genres – and I have more to learn on that front.

For now, I no longer identify as a PhD Student. I have put my studies on hold for another year. I need to figure out what I want to do for a research project, and I’m just not ready to jump through all the hoops that are needed to complete the PhD process. Not yet anyways. Maybe in January, or May, or September 2016. We’ll see.

For now, I am going to identify as a writer, and perhaps as an innovator. When asked what I write, so far it has mostly been blogs, and academic articles. I think I may finally be ready to start writing the Going East books. I have in my mind a series of eBooks, that combines my lived experience on the bike trip with research – sharing a little more of the story around the places we visited – as well as the 1000s of pictures we took. For the most part on our Going East trip, we were not tourist, we were travellers. We spent time in places, met people, got a sense of the feel for where we were visiting. I think our stories around our time in Syria are especially important to tell. I think my PhD studies have better prepared me to write the Going East stories …

Before starting the PhD I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – In November every year, writers from around the world commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. I did NaNoWriMo the November before I started my PhD studies (November 2010). The focus is on writing, rather than on quality – as such academics have tried to model NaNoWriMo with AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month), but that has proven to be challenge – as word count doesn’t make as much sense in academic writier – as often it can take all day to write a paragraph because of the need to research while writing. Plus, in the academic world, verboseness is not treasured, rather writing well concisely matters. Anyways, this year, I shall need to think of what I want my November writing project to be. Perhaps, I will work towards one or two of the Going East books during NaNoWriMo.

It is interesting how time in nature helps me figure a few things out … I’m sitting at a campsite writing this out. Things are looking a little clearer for me right now. I clearly needed to spend some more time out in nature enjoying the ancient trees.


  • Becky
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