07 October 2016

0 i am babbling

a favorite KBGism. and i always interrupt to say, no, no, you are just talking. it counts. i care. it's not babbling. 

the corrections are nearly done. never mind the 20th. i'll probably submit them to the examiners next week, if only to get them off my desk and further from my heart.

and i find myself getting DEEPLY nostalgic. not even for the phd. it's more localized than that. i am nostalgic for the corrections.

i remember fondly the days back in late june working at n.muh's apartment when i wanted to bang my head on her kitchen table because the words were like pulling teeth though my nose.

i reflect with laughter upon how only 175 words from my original attempt at this were preserved.

already, before it is even actually done, it feels like less of a chore- or, let's be real, AN ORDEAL- than it was.

24,166 words. since may. pretty much all in place by end of july.

and already i can hear garebear's voice, telling me not to get the big head. warning me not to get cocky.

which isn't to say that it is good. only that it'll get the job done.

i'm pretty nearly certain this will get me, with minimal further work, a phd. (though i have been egregiously wrong before.)

today, for the first time in seven months, i looked at the project introduction that i wrote for the phd i defended. because it'll need to be modified for the phd i'm ultimately going to send in to the awards and examinations office at whatever point that happens.

two things strike me.

1. that this really, really was not rigorous work.

and 2. it's all there.

the paragraph where i talk about how i don't want to talk about popular biography seems, so clearly in retrospect, to be protesting too much. for something not worth discussing, i go on about it for far too long.

also there, many of the things they flagged up in the viva that i thought were simply their willful misunderstandings. actually, turns out, they were mine.

it's frightening, the discrepancy between what we think we're saying and what people get out of that.

last week, AV read the corrections and one of her responses was particularly vexing. on one particular point, she said i absolutely must talk about mrs. dalloway. looking at the section to which she was responding, i saw absolutely nothing that had any connection to mrs. dalloway. 

later, with considerable alarm, i figured it out. i'd quoted something that referenced events occurring in the course of a day and, in subsequent sentences, talked about how i was doing something new. by this, i meant something entirely other than events occurring over the course of a day.

in maph, our writing instructor banged on and on about getting your words to do the work you want them to do. valuable advice. but so so difficult in practice. probably impossible in the end.

because there's what i want my words to do, what you think my words are doing, and a whole world of confusion in between. more that that, there's a whole world of confusion between what i set out thinking, what i wind up thinking, the torrent of words i fling onto the page to get to that point and the 24,166 i eventually wind up with.

maybe my nostalgia for the ordeal is actually a way of intellectually pressing pause. because there is always this forward momentum. there are at least ten things i've still to write this month. so many more words to produce.

after being so stressful, so pressurized, the corrections feel leisurely now.

i've often said that we writers write for that moment when we read our own writing and it feels like it was written by someone else. but perhaps we write for this other moment too. the moment when, for however briefly, you feel you've actually done something and done it well.

it is not a feeling that lasts. but there's a sweetness to it, like on sunday afternoon: when you know you've got school the next day but there's still a few weekend hours at hand in which you've the room to do nothing for a little while longer.

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