Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summers are like Dissertating

Only without advisors. Or fixed deadlines. And with an income.*

Truly, so far this month is shaping up to look like a pastiche of (most of) the best parts of grad school. Confession: I complained plenty in grad school, as did we all, but for the most part I really liked it. Especially the last couple of years, when I wasn't teaching and had loads of time to work. The downside, of course, is that when you've got loads of time to work, you feel that you need to work for loads of time, which of course you don't do, and then you feel bad about yourself. Well, I think that this first year of professorship has cured me of that feeling. (At least for now, while the experience is fresh in my bones.) Teaching for 12 hours a week (and prepping, and grading, and meeting with students, and doing whatever the hell else I did all the damn time this past year) taught me to appreciate and enjoy my hours of leisure (on the rare occasions when I could grasp them). So I've been working for the last week or so--revising the MS, mostly--but not too hard. In fact, I'm probably getting about as much done as I usually did during an average week of dissertation-writing, but without knocking myself out about how much more I should be doing. And I took the weekend off. So okay, maybe a slightly below average diss week. But still! Things have been Accomplished, and not only that, but Naps have been Taken, Laps have been Swum, Bike Rides have been Gone On, and Lovely Meals have been Prepared. Also, a Novel was Read.

The challenge, however, will be to keep up this sense of relaxed productivity. Because, see, even as I write this, I know that I've been here before. It's all so familiar. I have a few days of doing some decent work and feeling pretty OK about it, and then I start to get bored, and then the malaise sets in, and before long I'm storming around the house in a fretful state not wanting to work but not able to let myself do anything that isn't work, and then we're back into the truly rotten part of the grad school state of mind once more. Heh. Wish me luck. Just as I wish all of you luck, because I know I'm not alone in this.

*And, unfortunately, with fewer local friends, but so far I've been doing all right. It remains to be seen how the limited social opps will have affected me by the end of the month, though.


What Now? said...

"Relaxed Productivity" exactly describes my ideal state. But, like you, I recognize that it's a fragile state, one difficult to maintain. But how lucky to have had it this week, and what a happy dream to keep it going!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

That last paragraph totally pegs my current state: wanting to work, but not wanting to work, then not really using the time I'm not working to do anything else productive because that makes me feel guilty for not working. So I do nothing. Human stubble.

heu mihi said...

Yeah.... I should confess that, kind of following my own expectations, I haven't done very much since I wrote this post. Which accounts, in part, for my blogging silence. The shame!