Musings of an expat grad student... oy vey.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Procrastination II

I'm a very strange procrastinator.

Most people, when they procrastinate, choose to do something completely unrelated to whatever they're putting off. So if they're meant to be writing a paper or reading an article, they go watch TV or play games or go shopping.

Me? I write abstracts.

You see, every week, I get about 30 calls for papers dumped into my inbox. They're for conferences and journal issues and collections as disparate as "Neo-Medievalism in Video Games" and "New Perspectives on Religion and Theatre". All of them look fascinating, and many of them inspire in me the mad, frantic creativity of ideas that drives the mind of the academic. I start deconstructing the topic, making a mental outline, lining up theorists and sources. I generally have at least the introduction written in my head before I realize that it's for a conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on the day of my brother's bar mitzvah.

Notwithstanding the ones that are impossible due to geographical or temporal impossibility, though, and the ones that fall outside of my area of study, I've now submitted at least three abstracts for books and conferences, most of which were written when I was actually meant to be doing something else, like write my dissertation. One of them has already been accepted and two are likely to be, which would put my academic publication count (including conferences) at four. This before I'm even six months into my PhD.

Why is it that I choose to distract myself with more of the same? Perhaps because an abstract represents a promise to do something later, a vague commitment that I won't actually have to deal with for months, and therefore is infinitely preferable to slogging through the minutiae of theory necessary for my current dissertation? Is it like a kid wanting a puppy because his dog isn't cute and small anymore?

And why is it that I seem to love collecting publications? They're like notches in my belt, instances of ultimate validation that I can point to in order to prove that I'm a success. Either I've bought into the academic notion that the number of publications one has is the ultimate measure of success as an academic, or I'm entirely too up my own arse about publishing. Maybe both.

In any case, my dissertation word count is now 1700/12-15,000, with almost all the research done. Considering, however, that I once wrote a 7,000-word A-minus paper in about 12 hours total, including research, I'm not terribly worried.

But I am a little, because instead of writing it right now, I'm working on an article proposal with my husband for Dragon magazine.

*bangs head against desk*


  • Heh heh--I do that, too. I now have a notebook full of ideas for future writings...and then of course my thesis topic is so rich that there are dozens of spin-offs possible for it, and sometimes I get distracted by those.

    Wouldn't it be wondrous if we could sell our ideas and abstracts, using the money earned to support the writing of our current project? Just a wish... (I'm not so sure how I'd feel about someone buying and writing about my idea, though; they'd have to acknowledge where the idea came from).

    By Blogger Carroll, Violinguist, at 2:05 PM  

  • me too! I used to send these out while I was doing my MA, but now I don't even send any. Just my procrastination hitting another level. Or I come up with elaborate ideas on what type of research to to for a postdoc...

    By Blogger sheenav, at 4:04 AM  

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