March 11, 2005

Fits and spurts

That should really be the title of my blog, frankly. I find that the blog posting doesn't always reflect my writing habits. Lately, I've developed a wicked writing habit. I've been writing constantly... but I've been writing very targeted and very specific stuff for my prospectus, so, I haven't had much time for posting. Now, though, I'm taking a short 10-minute break to write out the things that are "in the way" of writing the stuff that has to get done.

I have had one of those up and down research months. Its what I'm beginning to believe is like unsuccessful intellectual foreplay. You get an idea... you become excited by it and feed the desire, the quest, the curiosity that you feel with feverish writing... everything sounds brilliant to you.... You even let yourself hear it, "This is it! This is my major contribution to scholarship thus far! I'm soooo going to get it!!!"

On this natural high... adrenaline pumping, confidence high... you print it out and pass it along for someone wiser and more respected than you (by you and by your community) to read and comment on. The mentor returns your ecstatic exercise with as much praise as she can find to give, with serious, thoughtful feedback... which... when you look at it you realize actually means... "You're almost there, but the important part... you know... the substance... It's missing." Only, she says it smarter than that... and nicer...

So still clinging to the little bit of hope left that you had for that excited little masterpiece, you return to your safe writing space, and look over the feedback... turning it over, writing out questions, answering your questions... and then it hits you like a load of bricks... Despair. How is there any possible way that you can recover? All that exuberance was probably just folly... and the doubt creeps in.. and the fear... "Am I ever going to get it" "Does anything I think make sense?" Or better yet, "Am I ever going to figure out what I mean?"...

And then the recovery begins: "Hey, I had a good idea there." And you remember, the respected mentor mentioned something about that "Hey, she thought this part was ok..." And you start writing again... Tentatively, sure to choose words carefully... being strict about the kinds of liberties that you take with ideas... and the confidence starts to come back, and the desire... and then...

You guessed it... You're warming yourself up again for another wild ride... "Here's an idea that's going to work!" and "Oh! Yes!! This is what I mean!!! I can see it... I can see what I mean...and I can say it now... I think I'm going to get there this time!"

Please tell me that this isn't going to last the whole length of the project. Someone please tell me that at some point, you feel good about what you're saying and that you can say it until... at last, you can say with confidence... "DONE!"

Posted by c_jane at March 11, 2005 1:52 PM | TrackBack

Yes, you will eventually be able to say "DONE!" about the dissertation. Your ideas will always evolve, though, and that's a good thing.

Posted by: GZombie at March 11, 2005 3:16 PM |

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