Saturday, February 13, 2010

No, really, I refuse to lose track of this blog.

I miss it. And I'm more able than I've been in ages to think to myself as I walk along, "I should blog that." This tells me that I continue to recover from all the complications caused by celiac disease.

When I last posted here, I was thinking about the iPad. Since then, there's been the start (though not the end) of the Amazon/Macmillan pricing conflict; and the announcement that the British Library will be making a bunch of 19th century novels available for free download to Kindle users. I have more to say on this, but it'll have to wait.

Since that post, I have mostly been plunging forward into the dissertation, which feels a lot easier, now that I'm not dealing with celiac-induced mental fogginess. I'm very pleased, but hesitant to jinx my progress by saying too much about it here. Today I was at a meeting for Ph.C.s where four recently minted Ph.D.s were discussing the process of finishing a dissertation, and one of them identified a particular hurdle: people who went around trumpeting how great their process was*, largely to make themselves feel okay about it when in reality, they were feeling like shit about the whole thing.

I would just like to say that so far, my experience of writing a dissertation has been completely horrendous, and thoroughly wonderful. Usually, it has been both those things at the very same time.

* Now, today's meeting seemed to take a fairly dim stance on writing about diss progress at all, which I think is too extreme. But that's another post.


  1. Oh Paige, I have this nagging (and apparently self-centered) suspicion that the folks at the PhC meeting were talking about me. I've tended to be one of those people who admits to having enjoyed the dissertation writing years. And maybe this has not been welcome news to folks who are still writing, and maybe it sounds insincere since I am telling them retrospectively. But what if I really did love the process? It was the only time I ever got paid/rewarded to write on whatever the hell I felt like writing about. Since then, I've just been struggling to find a professor job in order to recover that feeling that my research is timely and matters (and struggling with the fear that all that research was after all for NOTHING since there are no research jobs available in my field--4/4 teaching load, here I come?). My enjoying the process may have something to do with the fact that I had a very hands-off committee, and I received a couple nice fellowships (for which I worked my ass off *sniffs defensively*). I also developed what I found to be effective practices around getting those chapters out. Some of these were healthy and involved lots of dialogue and collaboration (writing groups, conference papers), and others were less healthy (cigarettes and the "wine diet" towards the end, not to mention self-sabotaging personal life upheaval, just in case the cigs didn't kill me). I guess my point is, everyone has a different process, and everyone has equal parts of feeling exhilarated (I hope, anyway) and shitty about their dissertation. And I happened to like the research and the writing, and I remember it being hard and rewarding, and I would gladly return to those years in a heartbeat if I'd only known how long I'd be on the job market hoping against hope for a job where I would get to continue with the project.

    Well, I'm glad you're blogging, my dear. See you around,

  2. Ah, see, I have a whole other post planned about how we shouldn't need to feel embarrassed about posting those updates on FB or elsewhere, nor feel embarrassed about saying that things are working well. And both you and S. post about the work process, and I feel like I benefit from that -- substantially.

    In short, I'm really glad that you enjoyed the process, and that you feel comfortable saying so -- because for most of the first years of graduate school, I felt as though any time I said I was enjoying the work I was doing, I was immediately classified as one of those overachievers who just tries to make other people feel bad. And I didn't like that at all.

  3. I'm glad you're feeling better. I know how much brain fog (though mine is induced by FMS/CFS/migraines) can make life feel muddy.