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Teachers are amazing people. As news has slowly trickled out of Connecticut this weekend I’ve been focusing on the brave acts of those teachers – the love, the protection, the good in the face of as yet inexplicable evil. I’m not sure any explanation would make us understand what happened in those classrooms. And I don’t know if this heinous terrifying thing will change much in the US in relation to gun control. But when you focus on what the average person is most likely to do in a situation like that – hide children in cupboards and stand in the way of the bullets, it changes the way you see the world -not as a minefield of evil and terror at every turn but filled with people who are brave, and courageous and compassionate and kind.

Rather than focus on all that is wrong and maybe all that cannot be changed, why not ask the question – why not? Or even how about? or what if? It’s amazing what can happen when you decide not to accept the status quo if you don’t like it.

Here is an absolutely inspiring video of a teacher in the South Bronx who didn’t accept that things cannot be better:


Which brings me to my own very inspiring situation with a teacher who asked why not? Why not be happy? Why not try? Why not find a way to make it happen? Why not strive for something beyond your grasp? Why not think outside the box?

I was wandering around to do looking at a new printer and binder company. I got taken on a tour of all their machines which were in use and I got to see books of all shapes and sizes being made. And I thought “I love my life” – that it involves a random tour of a binding machine. Because I really love publishing, every stage in the process of making a book, I love it.

And so. I can’t believe that next year I will be doing it full time. For a couple of months Helen has been saying to me – you should really think about doing a phd. And you know, I laughed at the crazy lady. I failed to complete such an endeavour once before, could I really be trusted down this path again? Course that time I did not have a scholarship and I had to work at the same time. Helen argued that this time would be different because I would do it in something that I love and that I already know stuff about. Again I kinda brushed it off. But things have been looking grim on the day job front for a while. I don’t much talk about that here and I won’t go into it now but it’s no secret that government agencies are having their budgets cut. And I’ve been on short term contracts for a while. For about the last year, I’ve thought time and again that all I really want to do is stay at home and work on my press. And then … Helen came back with a seriously off the wall idea and really, that’s how we like it at TPP. She had a pitch for a kind of phd that there was no way I could look past. And as I’ve started to explain it to those around me, yeah, there’s no way this is not the perfect thing for me.

If you don’t follow your dream, who do you have but yourself to blame for your unhappiness?

So later this week, before I walk down the aisle, I’m going to make a different but no less major life changing decision and I’m going to formally accept my phd scholarships offer and I’m going to go back to university to do a phd in publishing.


And it turns out? In the humanities? You get to work from home. Seriously. I had to lie down for that one. You better check in on me dear reader and make sure I a) leave the house regularly b) don’t get distracted on craft projects and/or c) don’t work all the time on it. Because as my husband-to-be has only just realised today, I’m going to be full time on TPP now. (well some time in the new year)

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  • By Tansy Rayner Roberts on 17 December 2012 at 9:21 pm

    OMG Alisa, I just realised today. All that reading you have been wishing you could do to catch up on the field, to give yourself more depth historically, and so on.

    You are not only going to have TIME to do it, but Helen’s gonna MAKE you do it.


  • By AlisaK on 17 December 2012 at 9:24 pm

    It’s pretty freaking crazy isn’t it it’s like suddenly every frigging duck in the world is in a row. *looks gingerly at it trying not to breathe in case they move*

    don’t forget to think of all the questions you think we need to know the answer to because now is the time for me to go out and find out How. That’s the big question – How :))))

  • By Thoraiya on 18 December 2012 at 4:15 am

    That is brilliant news! I’m so excited for you!!

  • By Rosie on 18 December 2012 at 5:22 am

    Wow, how exciting! Great to be doing a PhD, particularly in a subject you’ve already got so much practical experience of.

    Thinking of you and sending very best wishes for the wedding :-)

  • By Helen Merrick on 18 December 2012 at 7:40 am

    So glad you are going to go for it. I don’t think you have any conception of how much it will change your life being able to focus on this *full time*.
    This means in office hours. which means you will have these strange things called ‘evenings’ and ‘weekends’ which are used for ‘leisure’ and ‘fun’.

    Seriously, i think your biggest challenge will be learning not to work while you are watching tv/doing another job/socialising/spending time with partner.

    And I am very honoured to be thought of as inspiring btw. shucks! Was just doing my job….
    helen :-)

  • By Sean the Bookonaut on 18 December 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Excellent news,and to think we shall be the direct beneficiaries of your knowledge. Win win :)

  • By Ju on 19 December 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’m so happy for you! I love that everything is coming together so beautifully for you – so deserved, you’ve worked so hard and you bring so much joy to the people around you. I really look forward to hearing more about your adventures in returning to scholarship :)

  • By Alisa on 19 December 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you!

  • By Alisa on 19 December 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it.

  • By Alisa on 19 December 2012 at 9:19 pm

    That is the plan :)

  • By Alisa on 19 December 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you! I’m looking forward to documenting the journey here too. Took a long time but everything eventually did come together!

  • By Natalie Edwards on 20 December 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Woohoo! Congratulations Alisa. What a big week this is for you. By coincidence I’m looking in on your site via search results for info on Rosaleen Love. So good to read your news and to be inspired by your dedication to being/doing/marrying who and what you love.
    well done

  • By AlisaK on 20 December 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Nat!!! I was just thinking about you this week and was sad that we hadn’t managed to get back in touch this year. I can’t believe you found me again! What on earth brought you by way of Rosaleen Love?

    Thank you – it’s been a very long road but I think I might just have gotten here in the end!

  • By AlisaK on 20 December 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I’m so glad you talked me into it! And I’m still trying to comprehend how this is going to change things – both for TPP and for me, with a life outside TPP. I can’t imagine having weekends back, I literally can’t.

    I agree that the biggest challenge for me is going to be putting it down at the end of the day. I think it could mean I have more time to catch up on very necessary reading!

    And whilst it might still be your job, I think you’re inspiring at it!


  • By Jo on 23 December 2012 at 9:39 am

    Just catching up, I knew you’d accepted the PhD, didn’t realise it meant you were giving up The Day Job! That is fantastic, so glad you are following your dreams.

    (and good luck, just realised you are probably getting married as I type this…wheee!)

  • By AlisaK on 24 December 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I know!! isn’t the idea WILD?

    Thank you – I think we were getting married then too :)

  • By Marie Hodgkinson on 5 January 2013 at 12:40 pm

    A PhD in TPP? Sweet.

    I hope you don’t mind me barging in with a pinch of advice, though – I’ve just completed a course in Publishing here in NZ, and while the practical learning side of it was obviously fantastic, what really struck me was how useful it was to be in a class full of keen people who were facing the same issues I was, and working with them on projects and problems. Are there any small press/indie pub groups in your area you can tap into?

    Feel free to get in touch if you want to chat about the course, or small pub experiences – I think it’s fantastic that you’re levelling up for TPP, so to speak.

  • By AlisaK on 7 January 2013 at 6:10 am

    Thanks for your thoughts. There aren’t any small press/indie pub groups around that I know of and I don’t know of too many that can mentor me, I’ve been approaching a few …

    But thanks heaps for the offer, perhaps I’ll get in touch once I get further into this.

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