Today we welcome guest blogger Natacha Guyot!
Natacha Guyot is an independent scholar. She earned her master’s degree in media studies and digital culture & technology from Sorbonne Nouvelle University and King’s College London. She works on Science Fiction, transmedia, gender studies and fandom. Her published works includes Gender Dynamics in Star Wars: The Old Republic (Thought Catalog, 2013) and the upcoming Women in Science Fiction Television (Scarecrow Press, 2015). More about her projects can be found on natachaguyot.org.
Writing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even before I was able to write, I enjoyed making up stories with fictional characters and universes. I wrote Star Wars fan fiction as a child, years before knowing it had a name. I always thought fiction writing would be my passion. But in my mid-twenties it fell to the wayside. I am still sitting on a novella, a novel, and a good many other projects, all falling into the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. I haven’t touched them in a very long time and I don’t know when I will again, though I know someday I will.
Why did I abandon fiction? Because I am fascinated with academic writing and this has become my new universe, my creative bubble of predilection.
In Fall 2009, I embarked on a Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies. I had a solid idea for my dissertation but I was very much on my own. I needed to not only search out appropriate readings to support my thesis, but also conferences and journals for submitting papers. It was a trying experience, and while I eventually quit my studies to become an independent scholar, I realize now how much this experience taught me. Part of me wishes things had gone differently but everything happens for a reason.
In my three years of doctoral work I acquired valuable skills: how to find resources, to juggle schedules, to be more resilient, and to view research with a greater eye for discovery. Not only coming up with ideas, but practical things like following submission guidelines, networking, and getting used to multiple formats. Admittedly, I found the whole submission process daunting, even while alone in front of my computer. I was very much afraid getting a rejection would be traumatizing at first. It is disappointing to receive a refusal letter for a conference or after submitting an article, but it only encouraged me to keep going and submit elsewhere.
Eventually I had the opportunity to speak at conferences and as a guest lecturer and developed skills as a public speaker. I don’t present in a formal, written way. I have notes, slides, sometimes video and picture support, but I don’t arrive with a paper completely written. One reason is that if I decide to turn a presentation into an actual chapter or article, I like having the room to include what I heard from other speakers or students. The exchanges and discussions are inspiring in such settings and can spawn new insights and unexpected ideas to fuel further research. This methodology even led to my first opportunity to co-edit an academic volume with a fellow scholar. Just another random twist in the road, and I unexpectedly learned how much I enjoyed editing work. This revelation encouraged me to accept other opportunities for editing regardless of whether or not I have a chapter in the published work. Stretching your skill set can be scary at first, but it is a good way to learn and meet new people.
Since I became an independent scholar, I have published in the form of books, eBooks, chapters, and articles. I even contracted a book with Scarecrow Press, Women in Science Fiction Television, which is due out in early 2015. This proved to be my largest academic project and a huge challenge. I learned to focus and strengthen both my research and writing, adjusting for audience, length and guidelines, and it has been a daunting but rewarding experience.
Now that I’m writing for the blog world, I find those same insecurities surfacing. I’ve had a professional and a fan-based website for a few years, but in summer 2013 I felt I needed a better platform to promote a more meaningful online presence and to increase my networking. I moved my site Science Fiction, Transmedia & Fandom to WordPress. It took me a while before I gained confidence and finding ideas for regular content was more difficult than locating the direction or niche for the blog. Being able to follow other blogs and interact with other writers has been invaluable. I’m excited about this new venture but I know I have room to improve as a blogger. I am looking forward to launching a new series that could span up to forty weeks. “A Galaxy of Possibilities: A Discussion of Character-Writing, Star Wars and Fandom.” It will bring together aspects from my fiction writing – incorporating my role-playing character, and significant elements from my research – about Star Wars, gender and fandom.
When I look back at my academic writing path, I am surprised by all the detours. Each new venture and learning experience makes me very curious and eager to find out what the future has in store for me.