Archives for posts with tag: dissertation

Some small pink roses.

A carafe of water reflecting the light.

Pretty post its with a neat to-do list.

Avo toast and smoothie.

2015: the year of dissertation writing rituals.

On this crisp and spitting Wednesday morning in Queens I find myself immobilized by the snail’s pace at which my writing progresses. You see, I can see the progress. I can feel it. In fact, I am apt to embrace the slowness. To cherish it. When are we afforded such opportunities to move slowly? No, it is not my own impatience with immobility that frustrates me. In my artistic work I relish slowness, and even stillness for that matter. I love choreographing still bodies on stage to illustrate how even still bodies are still moving. It is in stillness that we heighten our senses to notice the minute; the twinge of a toe or the flaring of the nostrils on a breath in become perceptible when everything around them is left still. These details heighten our perception of the world around us, and give us access into a part of our experience that we might not otherwise notice. I think the same is true with writing slowly, and therefore I would like to embrace the fact that I am slowly writing my dissertation. Not quickly. Not in a rush. But with patience and practice, so that that the details of my arguments can reveal themselves amidst the relative stillness of the words on the page. The twinges of toes and the flaring of nostrils can be included in my argument, rather than left out in the face of flying fingers and careless argumentation. But it is the temporalities that surround me that make me anxious about slowness, or even stillness. What happens to my own minutia when those around me grand jete through the dissertation? I think I will find out, because the writing is slow whether I like it or not.

Photo on 9-22-14 at 11.56 AM #3
Moxie tale for the day: ginger tea. Accompanied by a recipe for writing. Getting started is the hardest part. This ritual helps.

1 Early morning (early fall cool weather and clouds don’t hurt).
1 Bowl of oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit.
1 Cup of Ginger tea.
1 cute pooch on the lap.

photo 2photo 3

Some things are perfect. Even on days like today when the feeling of fall enters the air and work seems impossible. Like the way that I can clear small debris and liquids directly from the cutting board into the sink. No cupped hands to catch the scratch and precariously transfer it several feet over into the sink or the garbage. No drips along the way. Just one fell swoop. Design, my friends. It’s a beautiful thing.

Sometimes, it’s okay to let a deadline pass. Especially a self imposed deadline. I continue to work on my dissertation and try desperately to produce chapters at a lightning clip to finish my degree by May. Still, sometimes writing just isn’t ready to be shared. This doesn’t mean that the deadline hasn’t served its purpose. The yellow highlighter on my calendar reminding me that it’s time to send the baby on its merry way has still pressed me to work toward completion. Just because the chapter isn’t done by the (randomly determined) deadline doesn’t mean that I didn’t make the progress that I intended to make when I set the deadline. And, generally speaking, I will still finish the chapter sooner than I would have without any deadline at all. So make deadlines, and, sometimes, when it seems right, let them pass. It doesn’t mean that the deadline didn’t serve its purpose, nor does it mean that you’ve failed to accomplish your goal. It might just happen a few days, or even a week behind schedule. The most important thing is to keep working. Don’t feel defeated and give up. Instead, feel empowered by the progress that you did make and remember that with a final push you’ll still meet your end goal. Patience is key.

I know where I am, but where am I going? This is the first time in a long time that the year has started with so many uncertainties. I’m not sure of my work because I’ve taken such a long break from it to recover from cancer. And I find myself gravitating toward the most random things like wanting to be involved with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society or wanting to have a successful blog. But shouldn’t I focus instead on the much more concrete tasks at hand like writing the article I need to write, applying for the grant I have to submit, and finishing my dissertation? The concrete tasks feel further away than they ever have and I wonder how and when I will get back to them. For the first time I feel myself wondering if I will get back to them.