View Full Version : A question for fellow academics

05-27-2011, 11:46 PM
I have a question for any writers out there who are also in academia. I am going on the academic job market in the fall to teach law (I'm also working on a PhD in English on the side as my research is interdisciplinary). It was a strange coincidence that I finally landed an agent this year, and she just took my novel out on sub. My question is do those of you who are professors/trying to become professors find that having the fiction thing on your cv is a problem in scholarly circles? If I were lucky enough to ever sell my book I would prefer not to use a pen name, but it would also be strange if one dream coming true in some way undermined another dream coming true (getting a professorship). My novel is a literary mystery--it does have some fairly strong sexual themes/violence so that makes me extra cautious. Thanks!

05-27-2011, 11:51 PM
It depends on whether it will make a good impression or not, which is affected by the type of book and the type of employer. I suspect if you are on tenure track it might be seen a good balance, or it might be seen as a distraction from being the kind of no-down-time labor some universities expect. I, personally, left it off, but I write erotic stuff.

05-28-2011, 12:09 AM
It doesn't help or hinder my academic productivity or the annual evaluation of my academic accomplishments. Mostly it's just a curiosity, and while it is considered a worthwhile pursuit, those publications do not count toward the professional publications that are used for merit-based raises*.

[*Our raises are entirely merit-based, although we have not had any raises in the last three years, and likely won't in the near future.]

If your area of specialization is something other than creative writing, your suitability for an academic job will be based on your experience and productivity in the three areas of academic responsibilty: creative activity/research, teaching, and service. In my experience from both ends (being evaluated and serving on search committees for new hires), writing fiction doesn't add to any of these three categories although it can speak to a person's character--in terms of being creative and of possessing the self-discipline to finish varied projects. About the only time it will get in the way is if there is a drop-off in academic performance during the periods of fiction writing. It's not a good idea to show employers any evidence that fiction will take away productivity from the prospective job.

05-28-2011, 12:37 AM
Hey W,

Welcome to AW.

But by golly, your PhD in English is worse than what I write.


An on the vodka Whacko

05-28-2011, 01:09 AM
But by golly, your PhD in English is worse than what I write.

This made me laugh. I've just finished my BA in English and Scottish Literature. I thought I would follow through into postgrad. Instead, I'm taking a year out, and swapping to Classics. :)

05-28-2011, 01:14 AM
It depends. I mean, I work in governement and my employers know, and some have read, my fiction. It's no big deal.

However, if I was a primary school teacher who wrote erotica then I might choose to use a pen name and not put that on my CV.

05-28-2011, 03:03 AM
I made sure that my immediate boss knew, so it would not be a surprise if someone made the connection. But that was after I was hired.

05-28-2011, 06:15 AM
Thanks to everyone for all of the feedback. I am guessing, given how long these things take, that even if I sell it one day it won't be until after I've done the job market process in the fall so it will probably be a moot point! I will for sure leave it off the cv and otherwise not mention it until when/if I get a job! (Which in and of itself may be unlikely given how much I've procrastinated on my job talk paper doing revisions on the novel).

05-28-2011, 06:24 AM
I customize the cv for the job; in the interview, if it seems appropriate, I will mention that I've written X books about Y--I don't write fiction, but I do write consumer computer books, and software.

You don't want to hide anything; but you do want to privilege the information you want them to know.