Every now and then I reflect on how much more intensive my life is now as compared to my previous life. I know I worked a lot then as well, but I had less regulated work. I went in to teach, and I had office hours and supervisions by appointment, and there were some meetings that I dutifully attended and that didn't make any difference at all. The rest of my time I was at home writing my books and articles, or travelling around the world to conferences and guest talks.
I cannot say that all meetings of my current life are exciting, but they surely make a difference, sometimes substantial. Sometimes for the better, oftentimes for the worse. At least I know that I can try to make a difference. I may succeed if I try hard enough. As in any job, there are problems and disappointments. But there are so many more reasons to be glad or even proud. So many more things that matter. Things that make life interesting.
Next week my first Cambridge Phd student has her viva. Another student will finish next year, then yet another batch. I watch them grow, become independent, attend conferences, publish, get invited to events – watch them transit from students to colleagues. It matters.
A new bunch of masters students have just submitted their first assignments. They are anxious. One said to me: “Thank you for making things clearer”. It matters.
The new electives we designed last summer have, as far as I can tell, been successful. The new sessions I did for doctoral research training this term attracted students from other disciplines, who have posed a whole set of new questions to me. We have a lovely group of visiting scholars this term.
I have won some battles that nobody might even know about. There are tiny indicators that the rest of the Faculty are reluctantly acknowledging that children's literature is a legitimate subject, that it brings in students, and that it won't go away.