It's December and almost 3 months since I wrote here. And this timing makes sense because my ability to write has been difficult at best, impossible at worst. Friends, femtors, mentors, colleagues, have all told me that the post-dissertation slump is real. And naturally, I heard it, nodded my head, and immediately thought that it would not apply to me or even if it did, I could just, "get over it."
I did not. And have not. I expected the transition to be difficult. But what I didn't realize was that the ways I finished and then immediately moved to faculty (both physically across the country and positionally with a new college/department) has led me to love writing less. I have not recovered from this heartache. Writing and my writing goals (which admittedly I did not adjust enough in light of everything), have been a containerized pressure cooker— all the more pressurized with all the language of "being on the clock" with tenure and impact factors and publications and and and. And I've spent most weeks feeling like a failure, despite appearing to "produce"... and feeling worse knowing that each week is another week I am further behind. An endless, horrible cycle.
I am also teaching a yearlong class on dissertations right now. And oddly enough, despite the constant feeling of never "doing/being enough" for that class and for my students either, it has offered a precious, consistent reminder of the beauty in writing. We spent class time reframing introductions as world-building, borrowing from science-fiction and fantasy to nerd out about how quickly a world can be constructed and inviting for us to join. I spent weeks reading incredible drafts, being inspired by my students, and also rereading some of my own favorite authors to provide extra resources and examples of beautiful writing. And... I do the exact same things my students and I have discussed as what harm our writings: the endless negative self talk about our own ability; calling our writing bad or not "academic enough;" chasing after perfection; writing a sentence and then rewriting it (over and over again); feeling like we did nothing because we were "just reading"... an ever-present spiraling cycle...
A week ago, I wrote a sentence that made me giddy— you know, the sentence you read aloud to your friends with the pride of knowing, "damn, this is a great sentence." And yet, I have not written another like that since.
I am slowly understanding that is okay. I am still healing. Elizabeth Acevedo was on the podcast, 88 Cups of Tea (highly recommend) and talked the necessity to relearn who you are during this pandemic. Back in September when I listened to the episode, I again, nodded and let that advice flow in one ear and out the other. But now, in reflecting on how I am trying to fall back in love with writing (and in some ways, back in love with myself), I realize I need to relearn who I am: who is this post-dissertation me and enjoy this journey of self and healing, amidst of and in resistance against the spirals and cycles that actually point to the much larger issue of academic production, neoliberalism, capitalism, and white supremacy— a post for another time.
In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).