A Question of Balance
And no, I'm not talking about the Moody Blues album... I'm talking about finding the middle ground when it comes to developing different kinds of writing projects. The issue I'm facing is that I have stories about sex, drugs and rock n' roll, and on the other side of things I have academic projects in the works.
The first problem is developing a following, and I know that there will be very little crossover between the readers for these two groups. To be successful, I need to know my audience and present myself accordingly. I'm writing for two very different worlds.
What I'm really worried about is scholars thinking that my academic work has lesser or no value because I also want to write about crazy stuff in my fiction. And the concern is only about the scholars. I have a gut feeling that the people who like to read my fiction won't stop reading my creative work because I've written something academic. I don't want a story or novel to undo years (and I do mean years) of technical research.
I personally know a handful of people who have handled this situation by writing under a pen name, and this gives them an incredible amount of freedom. I know that's not the route I want to take, but it's hard to think of an alternative as effective as channeling a certain kind of creative energy into one place.
The other thing I can do is simple keep writing the crazy stuff and hold onto it, publishing the tamer stories (if there are any) and letting the other odd projects build up until the academic work is done and then move on. I don't like having finished projects piling up on my desktop, however this seems like safer route.
At the same time, I feel like I'm being untrue to myself. What it comes down to is that I spent a lot of time and love on what I write. All I want to the freedom to be creative and not feel bad about sharing it. I know I won't be able to make everyone happy, but it would be nice to find a balance between the extremes.
The answer won't appear right away, but I know it's out there. All I can do in the meantime is keep writing and searching.
Last thing: While I remember, check out the Moody Blues' album "A Question of Balance." I was listening to it while I was writing this post. It's no "In Search of the Lost Chord" or "Days of Future Passed," but it's still pretty mellow.