Thursday, June 09, 2005

Whiny Time

I find that as I write more and more about space and Irish literature (that's space as in "roomy" not as in "Star Trek"), I have less and less writing energy to devote to my little blog, who is becoming a bit like a neglected child who is understandably getting a little fussy. Unfortunately, I can't promise the situation will get better anytime soon. After spending (on an ideal day) four hours pounding at the keyboard already, sometimes I can't muster up any extra strength to rant about the state of the world today or (let's face it, the more frequent topic of the blog--) the state of me. As for the non-ideal days, when I don't write for four hours or anything close to it, I am filled with such profound self-loathing for my lack of discipline and self-control that I am more likely to turn my energies to making peach smoothies and watching The L Word. (By the way, isn't it such a good show?)

That's the problem with doing something that you're really not meant to be doing. It feels icky--sort of all the time. (And by "doing something you're not meant to be doing" I mean writing a dissertation, not blogging, which actually is fun, unlike thesis-writing, which is like soul-sucking purgatory.) This is why it feels icky: because either you're doing that thing you're supposed to be doing (for example, oh, reading the same passages of some super hard book over and over trying to make them fit some obtuse theory you came up with and thought was clever 9 months ago but now are realizing may just be cleverly wrong) and hating every minute of it, or you're not doing that thing and instead the weight of it is hanging over your head like a very creepy black cloud of guilt and going-to-the-dentist feeling 24/7 that ruins every other fun thing you may be doing. I've had going-to-the-dentist feeling for two years now. By the way, if anyone you know is thinking about pursuing a PhD, please please have them come to me so I can run a battery of personality tests on them first.

I think it's safe to say the love is gone. What's left is the commitment. Just the sheer endurance factor. The problem is, I doubt anyone of you are going to understand what the hell I am talking about. Because most people are jealous that I "work from home" and have a flexible schedule and don't have to actually earn any money (Which is another thing that irks me to no end, believe me. Before you quit your jobs, career women, think carefully about the psychological impact of not being able to pay your own rent if you had to. Just, if you had to.) And, after all, what's so hard about writing anyway? Right?

I don't know either. All I know is that it sucks to be in the wrong place. To be doing the wrong thing with your energies and your hours and to know simultaneously that you can't quit now or it will all have been wasted. If you are doing something you don't hate, if you see more than one person on average per day, if you have a boss who gives you both structure and the occasional affirming boost, if you aren't trapped by your own decisions inside your own apartment for the vast majority of your week, don't change a thing! Keep doing that! Even if it makes you no money or involves a long commute or something. Trust me.


At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just out of curiosity - what is the percent of PhD. students that complete all the course work but don't finish the dissertation? Must be high? JQ

At 5:08 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

"..unlike thesis-writing, which is like soul-sucking purgatory."

i just learned that "pandemonium" was invented by milton in paradise lost: it's the capitol of hell. if i recall the original spelling was Pandaemonum -- all of the daemons wanted to hang out there. and i think that is so fun.

and also i think that that is why you are fun -- you like these random little tidbits. you have a sense of what is interesting and quite probably the ickiness of dissertational persevera(e?)nce has its roots in the fact that you are being obligated to take one interesting 9-month-old theory and and flog it to death with one hand while the other hand digs a grave to lay it in. (as someone who dedicated this week to digging into my school app sample and promptly proceeded to compose preludes and tables of contents for a half dozen fanciful books with titles like Resistance Is Brutal and Tits And/Or Ass - Body-part Preference And What It Reveals About the Self, i feel i speak with a certain authority on the difficulties to be found in sustaining an interest in something of your own creation.) i have so little that is of any actual help or interest on this topic, but the closest i can get is just to say: no fear. none whatsoever. write what the f your considerable mind tells you to. it will be loved.

that's it. no fear. none. none more fear.

say word.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger scs said...

Well, JQ, although grad school folklore has the number of ABD's (that's "All But Dissertation"'s) who never graduate very high, the number is actually about 20%. 80% will indeed finish, and I of course am looking into being part of that percentage, rather than the former. To the end, I'm looking into hiring a personal coach to help me finish, no doubt draining my bank account but at least helping out of the purgatory stage.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger scs said...

Huntsman, you have hit that shiny little nail on the head. I hate being tied down to one idea (even if it is a highly complex, octopus-like idea). I am so ready to move on to other thoughts--politics, global warming, organic farming, and a bunch of new stuff that will intrigue me next month. But every time my brain sneakily creeps out to think about those other things my dissertation sticks out a scaly tentacle and raps me sharply with it saying "no soup for you!" Or something like that.

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

see the chronicle of higher education's "beyond the ivory tower" column


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