Law of Diminishing Returns

I turned in today, or I will have turned in as soon as Josh leaves the apartment, another draft of the chapter I began in December.  I did this awhile ago, too, but this time it’s a complete, not a rough, draft. If there are no major suggestions from my faculty members, I can spend just a few more days on it and put it behind me forever, or at least until I make some modifications to the intro and conclusion for the sake of continuity in the final dissertation.

How in the world did it take me so long? Don’t tell me, I know the answer to that. But it seems like I’ve taken so many starts and stops. As I’ve said before, I can hardly remember the past 7 months. I remember things that happened a year ago with so much more clarity.  I’ve never passed so much time in such a fog. All my personal motivation attempts – self-imposed deadlines, systematic planning, have been constantly thwarted.

In honor of finishing this damn draft, and in the interest of feeling like I’m making some progress, I pulled out a draft of a chapter I finished in November. It’s as if another person wrote it. I can sense the greater confidence and happiness in that writer. I can tell she felt like an intelligent, whole person. Who felt fairly confident in making plans predicated on before and after. But my project for the next 10 days starting Thursday – I’m taking this afternoon off to rest and gather my thoughts and we’re both taking off tomorrow for our anniversary –  will be to finish up that one, to make that one complete. I wonder if the astute reader will discern the different authors.

When I told one of my advisers about the Halifax job, she commented on how I’m advancing so quickly, and should have my dissertation done in plenty of time to take a job for the 2008/09 academic year. I thought, wait, stop, are we talking about the same me? Or the me that she knew before? Because this me no longer get things done so efficiently. I just took 7 months to do one of the 6 or 7 chapters of my dissertation. Even cutting myself a break for the past, I’m not sure I’m going to speed up now. But I’m not ready to give up entirely.

Sure right now I am working consistently well. But even as I say I’ll spend the next ten days doing something, I know that could all end. At any second our hopes and plans could implode again, and we’ll be enveloped by grief, pain, and misery. And I used to think balancing the personal and the professional was about taking vacation time.

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2 responses to “Law of Diminishing Returns

  1. Congratulations on finishing your chapter and on your anniversary!

    It must be so hard to have such clearcut evidence of the person you used to be. I’m hoping that at least aspects of that person will eventually resurface for you.

  2. Congratulations on the chapter! Everything we do is a record of who we are at the time, and looking back reminds us of who we were at other times, and that who we were is still, somewhere, part of who we are. If that makes any sense…

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