Stepping outside my comfort zone

The abstract I posted last has been accepted. Which is excellent. But that now means that I need to write the paper. Which is scary.

Ever since I came back into the loving embrace of the tertiary institution, I have pushed myself, sure, but I have worked pretty much within my comfort zone. I have worked with texts that I know, well. I’ve stuck to areas that I have felt relatively comfortable in – the TV industry, fandom, new and social media. This is the work I’ve pretty much focused on over the past 5 years, meaning that I’ve grown with it.

But none of the work I traditionally do would have fit the CFP for this conference, that I really wanted to attend. So I took a deep breath, and I wrote the abstract. And imperfect as it might be, it was accepted. And now, I need to start from scratch with writing it.

Most things I write are based on a literature I know well. If I want to write about cult television, or quality, or televisual eras, I know the 5 or 6 key texts I need to turn to. But all of a sudden, I’m writing about sexuality and sexualisation. And I’m doing a whole new set of literature searches.

It’s incredibly disconcerting to not know the most basic level of academic research about this. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of academic work about my specific niche take on this (Idol and sexualisation), which is good – nice niche area for a paper, possibly means it’s even worth expanding it to a publication if I come up with something useful to say. But it also means I’m doing very broad Google Scholar searches, and trying to distil out some fairly broad concepts. And I don’t even really know what sorts of theoretical bases I could be using.

So it’s something that is very exciting, but simultaneously utterly terrifying. I have several months to work on this, and I get the feeling I’m going to have to devote a reasonable amount of time to this.

So, how do other academics feel about this? Do you ever have the feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone?


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