OK, so I am four months in. Am I where I thought I would be? Am I where I hoped I would be? That would be a yes to the first, and a no to the second. I am where I expected to be; which is feeling overwhelmed, lazy, confused, etc, etc. I’m sure you have your own list of verbs that can go here. This is not where I’d hoped to be.
I’d hoped to be skipping through a field, picking up flowers of knowledge, and placing them carefully in the wicker basket of my thesis, where they would sit with picture perfection. Instead, I am arse-up in a blackberry thicket, tangled and bloody, with a basket full of weeds and a few cow turds, with no way out that doesn’t involve more pain.
WHY? Well I have lost my way.
I say to myself that it’s OK to lose your way, at this point; in fact it is probably a good thing. In order to get into a PhD program I had to have a clear proposal of what I was going to research, so I do know what my topic is, but the more I research, the less useful the proposal map of seems to be. I am just starting to get to know what I am learning, and that means reading all the other stuff that orbits my topic as well. Occasionally, I get glimpses of my destination, and I feel excited, a little bit confident, but then it disappears. Again, I say to myself, this is OK at this point. You are only 4 months in. Then I say, shit! You’re already 4 months in.
It doesn’t help that my study practices are in the toilet. I spent at least 3 weeks focussing on the two coursework essays I had due, and afterwards I found I couldn’t get back into reading. I also need to start to focus on my creative writing, but can’t get into that headspace either. We are also on semester break at Uni, which means no classes, so I have been fuffing around the house, not reading, not writing, and getting frustrated with myself. But then I gave up on what I was avoiding doing, picked up a completely new book, and Yay! I feel like I am studying again. This book – Creative Writing: Theory Beyond Practice – has a great introduction that has refocussed my attention.
With creative writing research, it is easy to get sidetracked by every other theory in the
literary universe. This is possibly worse for me as I am also interested in scientific theories and philosophy of science theories. But I am going to attempt to keep drawing all my readings back to creative writing theory. I have a new plan for study, which like all my plans I will probably stick to until I get distracted, which could be anytime between 1 minute and 1 year.
So instead of beating myself up over what I haven’t done, I will take a moment to congratulate myself on what I have learned so far, on the essays I have finished and what I have achieved. And I think I will cook myself a celebratory apple and blackberry pie. Yum!