Procrastination, thy name is A.Hab.
August 19, 2009 §
I am sitting in the room that Smitty and I spent the better part of nine months inside of, while we studied for comps…and devolved into giddy life-forms that could hardly speak a coherent word if it were not concerning our subject material. This is Grad Study Nirvana. Named by Smitty and me during a night of utter punchiness. It is located on the third floor of the university library, in a room that had previously belonged to library staff for their offices. On the glass doors lining the entrance is written the sign, “Faculty/Graduate Study Room. Individual Study Only.” To Smitty and me, it reads, “Undergrads Keep Out. Others Abandon All Hope.” It’s strange to be in this room alone, but I will strive to exert some self-control and work on my dissertation’s prospectus.
By writing a blog entry, apparently.
My goal this week is to compose a working first draft that I can conceivably submit to my dissertation director by early next week. We’ll see if I’ll allow myself that opportunity. You see, my dissertation and I are in a bit of an existential crisis. I have been wondering when I changed my sights from teaching at a small liberal arts college (similar to the one from which I graduated with my B.A. in 2004) to teaching at a large research university while advancing my own status as a Shakespearean scholar. I’ve been considering this conundrum for most of this summer, and frankly it has offered little (if any at all) motivation to write word one on the prospectus. Those of my readers who may be blissfully unaware of graduate school lingo (thank your lucky stars) should know that a prospectus is the in-between phase that separates a student from doctoral exams and the beginning of an approved dissertation. First, the student must write a summary of the dissertation to come…before the dissertation exists. I find this daunting, particularly as a writer who rarely writes her introductions first. If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t write the prospectus until half of the dissertation were complete. What this has to do with my existential crisis is that I find myself wallowing in panic, wondering, “What’s the point?”
Perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Perhaps I should be seeing it as another hoop; one that, once I’ve jumped through it, it will be mostly forgotten. Perhaps this prospectus is supposed to be a crappier version of the brilliant dissertation I’m bound to write. (Ha….) I am sadly incapable of knowing the future.
I tell my students every semester: I am getting my PhD in Shakespeare, not mind-reading. Oh, if only the latter were an option. I’m sure I’d be an excellent mind-reader.