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

Friday, September 02, 2005

Crises.

First: I cannot stop thinking about the people in New Orleans, those poor people, and I want to drop everything and go volunteer there and dig people out of flooded, muddied houses. I'm going to clean out my Paypal account when I get home and send half to the Red Cross and half to Noah's Wish, the animal charity.

Next:

Do you ever get bored with yourself while writing a paper?

I'm sitting in the library at the moment. I have written about 7,000 words of my MA dissertation of 12-15,000 words; my rough draft is due in on Wednesday, which in my terms means I have plenty of time. (It's just a rough draft, after all.) I know exactly where I'm going with it, and I've done all of my research over the summer - the hardest part - and written a great intro - the second-hardest part. So now it's just the long slog through the body.

And goddamn, I find my topic fascinating. Without giving two much away, my dissertation is on my all-time favourite author and combines two things I find among the most intellectually stimulating in the world. But goddamn, if I'm not sick of listening to myself talk. Or watching myself write, or whatever. I get bored in the middle of sentences. Why? This is fascinating stuff, and as far as I can tell, no one's ever taken this particular tack before with these particular texts. It's exciting. But oh, so very boring after a while.

I called my advisor this morning, having a crisis of faith. "I'm convinced I'm going to be a failure," I said. "Everything I write is completely obvious, or else it makes no sense. I'm ineligible for funding because of my international-resident status, so I'm self-funding, which will look really bad to hiring committees. The academic job market is insane and I don't know why anyone would choose me out of a field of two, much less 200. I'm convinced my PhD program only let me in because I'm paying international tuition rates and they want my money. I am going insane."

She told me that every single academic has these worries, that she's sure I'm going to get a job, she's read my work and hell, I've published already in a refereed journal and I'm only an MA student and stop worrying about the job market right now anyway, I've still got three more years to go and she knows both of my PhD advisors-to-be very well and neither of them would ever take a student who won't succeed. It wasn't a panacea, but it helped. She knows her stuff, and when she says that I'm a good scholar, I try to believe her. And I do, mostly. But only mostly.

And I'd be an even better scholar if I wrote my dissertation, so that's what I'm going to do now.

2 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Handbag, at 9:02 AM  

  • I'm in exactly the same situation - I get bored during a sentence and after finishing a paragraph, I think it's either only repeating the obvious or nothing.
    But I got over that point: Whenever I think that the paragraph doesn't fit into my set of standards, I use a different format for it (different font style). So I know, I won't miss this when I edit my text.
    Most of the time, things don't sound that bad when I return to this part of my text a few days later...

    By Blogger Academic Blogger, at 2:02 AM  

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