Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holiday Grace Period

I was vastly amused by the latest PhD comic, on the holiday grace period. Possibly because I took advantage of this implicit grace period, skipping my weekly progress report the week after Christmas on the grounds that it was better to tell my advisor nothing than to tell her there was no change at all, not a single paper read in the previous week. I spent Monday morning in a whirlwind of email activity, so I would be able to say I had "followed up" with various people (mostly other graduate students who had obviously also been taking advantage of the grace period).

In my defense, I did have real progress to report on my comps paper. It's just that I had taken a slow, thoughtful process to the new sections, which involved reading a few papers and letting them germinate in the back of my mind for a week. This looks completely unproductive, but actually makes writing much easier, because the papers have had time to get to know each other before they must be connected on paper. So I spent Friday afternoon churning out the new section, and most of the past few days rearranging the entire comps paper to fit these new arguments. I swear, I don't think more than 3 paragraphs out of 35 pages have been left untouched.

It pains me to admit it, but the revisions are actually growing on me. I have become obsessed with the safety of my work, backing up changes to a flash drive every night and bring it to my bedside table. I am determined to find a way to make this a practical dissertation topic, just to make all this effort worthwhile. I've even, almost, begun to see how the topic could be considered interesting. This hasn't been the case since I proposed my comps some 9 months ago, and marks the real progress. All of which is only possible because I did very little work over the last few weeks, allowing my brain to recover from burnout.

No comments: