Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Lonely Stretch of the PhD

This week the fact that I'm finished with coursework this semester and taking my PhD comprehensive exams in February seems REAL. Maybe it's because we're past the halfway mark. Maybe because we had to send in our Spring courses and teaching preferences. 
This is the face you make when you realize this is your schedule next semester:
Or maybe it's because due to personal stuff (which I usually don't share here) I realized I'd be doing this last leg with absolutely no support system. Just me and Nehi (not that she's not lovely). Suddenly this next year and a half-- of work, defending my prospectus, finishing drafts, revising drafts, and holidays seems like a really long stretch, uphill, knowing it'll just be me and Nehi here in Albuquerque.
So I'm feeling not quite overwhelmed, but perhaps a little out of touch? Floaty? Lonely?

And suddenly my t-shirt design for comps seems really prophetic.

This was also not my week for racking up successes.
  • One person in class told me to shut up about being excited about being done with coursework this semester.
  • I had, stupidly, rushed an article out to a journal this past summer and got rightly rejected. Still always stings though.
  • Also got a conference rejection this week. It was a medieval conference, and it was a medieval journal, so I'm a little panicked. Because this year my focus is medieval (with next year being early modern as I'm marketing myself for both) I'm a little worried that I'm not making the grade with the medieval crowd. In our job seekers workshop this week I was told not to worry about it. But I am.
  • I'm getting snarky comments from some people ahead of me in general for my OCD/color coded timeline of preparedness.
  • Another person interrogated me in the hallway, assuming a blog post I'd written was about them.
  • And I'm hitting my head on some administration stuff.

So it wasn't a great week.
So I'm trying to focus on the positive.
I found a great book to help me work through the psychoanalytic theory of my dissertation. And I'm writing the theory bits to add to my dissertation for my psychoanalytic class this semester.
Other than that, I'm 50+ pages into my dissertation. That's includes a rough introduction, and part of CH 1 and 2. I'm finishing my notes for round two today with those chapters (historicizing the devil references as I take a psychoanalytic approach).  Next Friday I'll type up my historicism notes and outline a chapter insert (2B) as I've realized I need an entire chapter to explain the absence of the devil in Shakespeare. Next semester I'm taking a 17th Century course with one of my committee members, so I'm going to prep a conference presentation to submit to the Milton Conference (and man, am I having a hard time believing that's come around again- how has it been two years already?). I'll then use that to build my CH 3 on Milton and the folkloric Devil.

So I'm pleased with where I am and I'm confident I can stick to my schedule of chapter drafts to committee members in March, notes by May, and spend the summer revising and writing the conclusion (which I feel good about because it gestures to my next book project which I already have planned out).
I even feel pretty good about my CV, and after over a month of the job seekers workshops, solid starts for my other job market materials.
That leaves next fall for going on the job market and next/final (?) draft to committee. Defend in January, have spring to fix any last notes, graduate May 2016.

I know what I'm doing wouldn't work for everyone. And it doesn't have to. It just has to work for me. But I don't understand why people have to be mean because I'm working hard to get this done. I'm not asking them to do it. How does it hurt them?

But what few acquaintances I have are gone next year. So I know it is already set up to be lonely. And people say that  the home stretch of the dissertation is the loneliest. It's one of the reasons why I decided not to apply for a fellowship for next year and instead continue to teach. I think I will need the human interaction. Plus, I'm only eligible to teach advanced literature courses after comps, and would rather have the extra teaching practice.

So I'm putting one foot in front of the other until I don't have to think about putting one foot in front of the other. When you're this busy, it's easy to compartmentalize and shove the personal stuff down. I guess I can't do anything more than I am.

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