Not long after my first co-authored academic book came out, my then-11-year-old son, who was sitting beside me in the car as we waited at the Illaroo Road traffic lights overlooking the Shoalhaven River, turned to me and asked, "Mum, what did you want to be at my age?"
"An author," I replied promptly.
"Oh, Mum!" he said, sounding awestruck: "and now you are!"
And that was the moment my mindshift about academic writing started in earnest.
We sometimes think of academic writing as not "real" writing; or at least, not the kind of writing in which members of the public might be interested. And then, on the other side of the coin, there are some academics who aren't completely convinced that research into popular culture is "real" academic work at all!
So: if you can't win, just do what you love. For now, that means researching and publishing on topics in which I have an interest; advocating and strategising on behalf of regional higher education, particularly on the South Coast of NSW; marking HSC English annually, to maintain my relationships with amazing teacher colleagues and keep abreast of the HSC curriculum; occasionally offering commentary, tuition or advice to HSC students, as well as those in specialised ASD units; and in between, renovating our home and pottering in our garden, travelling when we can, hanging out with my husband and the two young adults we raised, as well as our chooks, fish, and ageing cat.