Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oscillate Wildly

There's your Smiths reference for the day. Every day should have one.

It's not just a groovy song from the good ole days when Johnny Marr and Morrissey were working together, however. It's also a state of mind! [A dessert topping and a floor wax?]

I'm settling in for round three of working on my godforsaken conference paper scheduled for a Saturday panel, and I find myself shifting erratically between a couple of points:
  1. Abject terror. Like an Edvard Munch painting. Coming off of the debacle of my still-unfinished article from the summer, I have a deep and abiding panic that I've somehow become unable to finish a scholarly piece. Really. Seriously. I say this here in a desperate attempt to spare those around me from having to listen to me say this over and over again. What if I just can't finish it? What if I can't manage to pull all of the pieces together? What the hell happened to the mojo I had when I wrote my dissertation, where I would procrastinate for hours and still manage to churn out a chapter? Gone. All gone. I'm doomed. I might be able to sqeak through tenure, but after that I'm doomed; I'm going to be a 65 year old assistant professor, who people snicker at behind her back. Or worse, to my face.
  2. Hyper-confidence and hope. Like an American Idol contestant. I'm brilliant! I can do anything! My entire future stretches out before me, filled with interesting and exciting pieces that I've written. Maybe all of these separate ideas are not so separate after all! Maybe I'm working toward a book! A series of books! My own imprint!
Oy. Note that the first position is a whole lot more developed and embroidered upon than the first. Which do you think occupies more of my mental space? You would think that the second position would be more conducive to getting some writing done, but in fact, I think it's so deeply connected to the first that it inevitably leads back there; and the first? That's no position to write from. Where's the happy middle ground that equals a non-neurotic writing practice?

I'm off to attempt to open up the document. My goal for today: get something, anything, written. No. To write the Best! Paper! Ever! No. To write a couple of pages that would generate useful pieces of the paper? Is a question a goal?

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Blogger Dr. Medusa said...

I always always feel this mad oscillation when working on papers. You can write the conference paper. Saturday? Dude! You have tons of time. (OK, maybe I am a bad influence.) Anyway, you only need 10 pages tops. And remember, it's only the initial launching of an idea/argument, at least that's the way I have always looked at it. And my conference papers? Interesting and exciting and brilliant pieces of work, every single one! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007 6:32:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Did you oscillate wildly? Finish the paper?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Ah yes, "initial launching." That takes some of the pressure off. But will it approach Medusian brilliance? that's the question!

And Beth, ahem. I have til SATURDAY. I'm still oscillating, but more sedately.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:46:00 AM  

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