Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rotten Radishes

Annakiss isn't flying solo here anymore. As I find myself transitioning from research to writing I decided it was high time I contribute my voice to a blog, at least thematically, based on our family life. I can only imagine that my presence has been a sort of humorous incidental. Like the traveling gnome, I show up with my beard in the pictures posted on this blog then disappear under a tidal wave of garden porn and filthy, half-savage children.

I'm not going to put on airs. For the most part, my intentions are entirely selfish. I need, desperately need, to get into "writing form" before I organize thousands of pages of notes into, hopefully, a journal article and the final chapters of my dissertation. I've never taken to blogging because I felt something off-putting about people attempting to make their life fascinating for an audience of people who are, incidentally, doing the exact same thing. The entire phenomenon looked like one big cyber-circlejerk to me. Hell, the only reason I joined facebook was to keep in touch with people I met while traveling and efficiently organize outings to the local bar. But an unfortunate thing happened this semester that has made me turn to blogging out of desperation.

I got writers block. Maybe it isn't fair to call it that since I haven't even been able to sit down and BEGIN to write. I gave myself plenty of excuses including the most obvious: after spending the past four years researching and writing a (what I thought was complete) 130-page dissertation I am going to have a bit of a hangover before I forge ahead and effectively double the work. I've always been an unconventional writer: I abhor editing, I have written entire chapters at one sitting, I write up elaborate outlines and then never look at them during writing. In short, I work in furious bursts rather than sustained campaigns.

My blitzkrieg writing style, however, has crashed hard against the hard rocks of graduate school when patience and depth are valorized. So I've spent more and more of my time reading about writing instead of my topic. A particularly thoughtful piece by UCLA historian Lynn Hunt, "How Writing Leads to Thinking," outlined a few habits she cultivates to keep her pen sharp. Her "radish rule" particularly caught my attention. Like radishes that slowly accumulate throughout the summer, Hunt advocates a writing schedule that produces words, paragraphs, and pages as the days march on toward your imaginary or concrete deadlines. As I haven't written a word for my dissertation since early spring, my pantry is quite bare.

Thus, I approached Annakiss about contributing on a regular basis to sugar boot and weasel in the hopes that I can transplant some of the momentum, if not the literary produce itself, from here to my neglected work. Of course some habits will die hard. If you found a split infinitive or misspelled word in the above ramble its because I still abhor editing. If you don't, its likely that Annakiss decided to clean up after me.


em said...

You turn to a blog to motivate your dissertation writing and I turn to blogs as an escape from my dissertation writing. I am trying to get over what an extremely mastabatory activity it is to essentially write a novel that no one will read. But I look forward to hearing about your academic life as well as the family life through your eyes. And good luck with the writing, dissertations are bitches.

Rachel said...

Well, it will be good to get to know you too, since I've really liked getting to know Anna this way. Now I'm going to see if there are any radishes in the fridge, because I love them, and I certainly don't want any of them to rot.

anna kiss said...

@ em: hey, every time someone tells me that their work is masturbation I remind them how fun masturbation is. At this point, even if no one reads it, if it gets my advisor's signature on it I consider myself accomplished.

@ Rachel: I promise I wont always write about my school work. As a matter of fact, I have to go out and harvest my garden for the rest of the day. I much prefer to write about that.