Monday, July 7, 2008

19th nervous breakdown

So everything is painted, put away, weeded, and/or cleaned, and I have nothing to excuse my not working on The Book. I've been reading around in the relevant scholarship, and rereading the poetry itself, and I have dim inklings of what I might be getting around to arguing...

But I swear, I cannot seem to remember how to write a scholarly essay. How does one begin? I sit down at the computer and my brain goes blank. I know that in the past I have written them, and I know that I have begun just by beginning, and that I have written my way into a clear argument. I know all that, but somehow, the mental and even the kinetic memory of how to go about this whole enterprise has gone away. Writing this chapter seems not to be anything at all like riding a bike--and I can't figure out why, since it's only been about 6 months since I was working daily on scholarly writing. What! the! hell!!!?

My darkest fears are coming true: I *will* be revealed as a fraud.

(clench. grrrr.)


Lisa B. said...

I think the steps go like this:

1. review the existing scholarship.
2. wrestle your fears that you will be revealed as a fraud to the ground. Stand there with your foot on the fears' neck.
3. write.
4. repeat step 2 as necessary.

I used to think that if you could only properly do step 2, you'd be done with the wrestling forever. Has not proven to be the case for me.

That said, of course you are radiantly smart and will write an awesome essay.

Special K said...

You are (amnesiac or not) possibly the least fraudulent scholar of my general awareness. Big Scholar likes you, Big Publisher likes you, you're one of few profs to have a dedicated fan club...

the list goes on

dkm said...

Alas, you’ve published too many books to be in the running for fraud. I’m afraid that at this point you’re going to have concede the academic slow-ride to those of us who have (How shall I say this?) a certain expertise in the field. It’s sort of like Anna Scott in Notting Hill, trying to win the brownie. Nice try, but no way.

Renaissance Girl said...

lisa and miss k--thanks for your morale boosting. probably i'll feel more sanguine once i get a sentence under my belt (after i return--post on my whereabouts forthcoming).

dkm: LOL. you win the prize for funniest encouragement i've received for some good time!