Alert readers may remember that I used this forum to set myself some deadlines a few weeks ago. Well, it seems to have worked, and I’m even well ahead of myself, with the first article now finished and ready to be submitted a good week in advance. I’ve been more productive than I’ve ever been before, it seems. And it’s been a nice balance of writing and course design.
What interests me right now is the writing, though. This is my first stretch of post-PhD time unencumbered by schedules and teaching responsibilities. And it’s really the first writing I’ve done since I defended in December. I seemed to need a break after that – and didn’t accomplish anything, save for some very minor revisions for a publication. I worried about my ability to self-motivate this summer, since my last writing experience was the vise grip of the dissertation push and it stopped being fun, if it had ever really begun to be. But I’ve been writing with ease these last few weeks, and feeling perhaps better about my writing than I have since before I began grad school – grad school being the entity that poisoned my voice and my confidence as a writing thinker.
I have realized, as I’ve been contentedly writing, that the difference lies in the degree, terrible as that is. Writing became so paralytic during my PhD because of the crisis of authority that plagues so many grad students. I didn’t believe I had the authority to think much of anything, much less to write it. Having had my PhD not only passed, but heartily appreciated by a very tough committee, has alleviated a lot of my anxiety about my right to theorize. I hate to say it, but even the convocation ritual in February was important to me in conferring a degree of the authority that’s propelling me forward. It’s not as if I’m free of self-doubt – I’m healthily circumspect about what I’m doing – but I am, at least, able to enjoy the feeling that my thoughts are worth something, even to other people. What a revelation. And how much easier it becomes to inhabit this writing space. I once loved it - I grew up writing - and it is so nice to feel that foundational comfort again.
PS - Writing brings me a variety of joy, or at least contentment. What brings me full-on joy in breaks from writing, several times a day, is visiting cute overload. If you haven't been there and are susceptible to animal adorability, I advise you to visit quickly. Right now there's a video of kittens learning to walk. Killer.