The Process of a First Publication



Nicola Abram writes:

 It’s not quite the first time I’ve seen my name in print: even if you don’t count the folded and stapled poetry anthology I sold to raise money for charity when I was at primary school, allow me the live music reviews I wrote for the local newspaper as a teenager! My first academic publications are a special pleasure, though. I’m happy to announce that I have a journal article and two chapters in edited collections scheduled for publication over the next 18 months, as well as two book reviews. I’d like to share a little about my experiences of publishing during my PhD.


‘“I don’t do silence, innit”: The Unsaid and The Unsayable in the plays of debbie tucker green’, MaComère, 13:1 (2011) special issue: ‘Caribbean Women and Theatre’.


A call for contributions to this special issue came through on a themed mailing list, and my supervisor, Alison Donnell, prompted and supported me to respond. As a result, I’m thrilled to be able to share my ideas on the work of debbie tucker green, a significant figure in contemporary British theatre. In this article – which develops from my doctoral research on other aspects of tucker green’s theatre – I look at the themes and forms of silence in four plays. I argue that tucker green renders silence as a moral failure in which the audience is complicit.


‘Bernard Spencer’s Compositional Processes’, in Bernard Spencer: Critical Studies and a Selection of Letters, ed. Peter Robinson (Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2012).


I developed this chapter from a conference paper I was privileged to give while enrolled on the MA in Modern and Contemporary Writing here at Reading. Thanks to the dedication and vision of the conference organiser – Head of Department, Peter Robinson – I’m looking forward to celebrating the book’s release in October. My chapter is a genetic manuscript study on a poet named Bernard Spencer, whose archive is held in Reading’s Special Collections: it was a pleasure to encounter such original source material, and the process has influenced the emphasis on archival research in my PhD.


‘Looking Back: Winsome Pinnock’s Politics of Representation’, in Modern and Contemporary Black British Theatre, eds Mary Brewer, Lynette Goddard and Deirdre Osborne (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).


I came across this planned collection during a routine Google search, sent off my CV and a sample of my writing, and was delighted when the editors invited me to contribute on the contemporary playwright Winsome Pinnock. In this chapter I analyse two of Pinnock’s plays, A Hero’s Welcome (1989) and Talking in Tongues (1991). My argument is that she undermines the structures of illusionist theatre by having the performers look back at the audience, and so confronts the unidirectional gaze of racism. Although I don’t address Pinnock’s plays in my PhD thesis, this chapter develops some readings I did early in my doctorate. It definitely takes the sting out of editing if you can keep some of your ‘darlings’ to rework for publication later!


I found new motivation when writing for publication; I could imagine a readership for my ideas, and had to clarify my thoughts and hone my writing style for these shorter pieces (each around 6000 words). I greatly appreciate the detailed and attentive feedback from anonymous reviewers, collection editors, and my supervisor, and I’m thankful, too, for peers who cheerfully proof-read my work and continue to enquire about its progress. By publishing I’ve been immersed in the complexities of copyright permissions, and I’ve found myself thumbing through the MLA handbook late into the night, in order to master an unfamiliar referencing style. I’ve learned that the publication process is a long one: not counting the successive drafts and redrafts, it can take over a year to get even review articles out into the big wide world. So with the REF approaching, I’m grateful to have had the encouragement and opportunities to start preparing my potential contribution now.


And my thesis? I’m planning to prepare a monograph proposal after I submit. So, dear reader, you’ll have to wait for the book!


About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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