This morning at 5:15 am, I looked at my phone with bleary eyes. I wanted to check my email before I left my house to catch a plane. And resting in my inbox was an email from my press letting me know that Grace Period: A Memoir in Pieces was released. I blinked a few times to make sure that my overactive imagination wasn’t playing a trick on me. I looked at my phone again, and the email was real. What a lovely thing to happen on a regular Tuesday in June.
So, today is release day for my third book, and I’m having a hard time containing my excitement. No one at the Atlanta airport seems to appreciate my inability to stop smiling. Grace Period is a different book than my previous ones because it’s memoir, not monograph. But, it’s also not a traditional memoir. The story of my transition out of academia appears in fragments, or pieces, rather than a story with a clear beginning or end. I wanted to document how it felt for my life to veer off the path I expected and onto different paths that I wouldn’t have been able to imagine four years ago.
Here’s the description:
How do you build a life after failed dreams and missed opportunities? Kelly J. Baker finished her PhD in religion and imagined that she would end up in the tenure-track job for which she trained. She had done everything right: written a provocative and well-researched book, given presentations at national conferences, published articles, and created and taught a number of popular classes. Doing everything right, however, doesn’t guarantee anything if the career you trained for is no longer sustainable. The economic depression in 2008 gutted the job market for tenure-track jobs in the humanities, so she couldn’t find her dream job and worked instead as an adjunct and later a full-time lecturer.
But after five years of job rejections and a new baby on the way, she decided to take a year off to figure out if the career she trained for was actually the life she wanted. Grace Period: A Memoir in Pieces are the essays that she wrote to make sense of how her life went off-track. Expanding on her popular Chronicle Vitae column of the same name, she documents her transition out of academia and the emotional turmoil of rebuilding a life beyond what she had prepared for. Instead of telling an easy story about her exit from the academy into a brand-new post-academic career, Baker resists smoothing over the hard reality of transitions, the importance of waiting and anticipation, and the realization that the lives we imagine for ourselves are tenuous at best and often are impossible to achieve.
I hope you all enjoy it. And please let me know what you think as you read it.