General Musings, Grad School Advice

Lost in Text


Writing is lonely.

There, I said it.

IMG_20180626_123454_971As a literature Grad Student, I am constantly staring at text. I’m reading, or writing, or grading…so much text.

When I set work aside, it takes me about half an hour to focus and get that back-in-the-real-world feeling. Concentrating on speech is almost impossible. Time loses meaning. I lose hours and days…sometimes weeks.

I’m working on a part of my comps process right now, so not only am I writing, but also I feel the weight of the importance of getting this piece of writing absolutely right. Perfect. I’m shooting for perfection and sabotaging myself, because there is no such thing as perfection. As I work, my anxiety levels build, and I realize I am alone in this. Even if I sat in a room with other people as they wrote, even though there are other students doing the exact same thing I am doing…I’m alone. They aren’t doing exactly what I’m doing. If they were, there would be no point. And they have all the building tension I do.

All we can do is be supportive. We know what each of us is going through, but we go through it alone and together.

People outside of the discipline, outside of academia don’t quite get it. How hard can it be? There aren’t any right answers. You just read books and write what you think and feel. Only…that’s not it…that’s not even close to it.IMG_20180718_192851_680

This will all be worth it in the end, but for right now, it is excruciating. It wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t.

I have to remember…there is no right answer; there is no perfect paper. I’m still a student, and I’m still learning. I have to give myself a break. I need to work hard, but I need to be willing to let it be what it will.

I also have to remember that my computer is not my best friend, and it is okay to power down and experience life outside of text. I need to get so much done that I punish myself for doing anything other than working. Hard work is fine but breaks actually help my writing. I’m able to formulate and churn ideas while doing things other than staring at my cursor. Still I admonish myself for not working enough. It is never enough; I’m always behind. There’s always more.

So, to all of you out there working alone, I’m here too…working along beside you.

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