Note: This is the seventh of seven parts in a series of blogs on authors living in the Pioneer Valley. Click here to read from the beginning.
Carol Bailey says that in writing, the most profound lesson she has learned is to rely on the support of her community. Yet, the biggest challenge faced is rising to produce good quality work because no matter what, at the end of the day it is your book, your ideas, and you have to stand by it.
Carol, a 48-year-old cross-cultural literature professor at Westfield State University just recently published A Poetics of Performance, her first full-length book. She has had articles and reviews published in the past, but she found the publishing process to be much more involved—“long suffering”—requiring real dedication, patience and consistency.
Carol encountered many junctions where she felt tested, and she questioned whether publishing would be in the cards. Some publishers wanted to see her work as it progressed, and along the way, some lost interest, while others wanted to see more. The dual scenarios were anxiety producing.
Surrounding herself with her community for support was crucial in Carol’s process; the knowledge and skills of a wide range of people in her life were the foundation of her resources. Family and friends both within her field and outside of it read drafts and provided advice, giving insight when needed.
Carol has been writing for about 10 years and started publishing with reviews in the academic field. Her startup was an entry in a literary encyclopedia, and while working on her PhD she was asked to write two book reviews for a Caribbean women’s journal. She was asked by her mentor to publish an essay in a book and, from there, began submitting articles of her own. She says that writing her doctoral dissertation, since it is required to offer something new to her field, was great practice for researching and writing her book.
Making time to write is one of the biggest hurdles Carol faces. As a professor, there are many demands on her time as she advises her students on how to plan for their semesters. She makes a schedule at the beginning of each semester based on her class schedule; early in the semester, it is easier to block one to two days out per week. By mid-semester, though, grading and advising students take far more time, giving less time to write. Making good use of winter and summer breaks is key, but Carol admits that there is preparation for classes that needs to be allotted during this time as well, so it is a huge time management challenge overall.
It does help that her teaching and her writing run parallel in content; this keeps her focused, keeps her ideas current and allows a platform to flesh out ideas. Carol’s classes are enriching and dynamic, providing a learning environment that is challenging and engaging yet open and comfortable. She most often instructs evening courses, so if anyone is interested in going back to school or just fascinated with cross-cultural literature, check out Westfield State’s offerings for the fall!