Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lost Narratives

(c) Ella Strong Denison Library, Image from the Claremont Colleges Photo Archive,

I've been quiet on my blog because I've been trying to get other things done this week. Note the word trying. I am in the middle of a paper that I've been in the middle of for seven months. I have re-written it about ten times, each time with a new thesis and direction, only to get bogged down in other things and lose focus. Now I've returned to this paper with renewed inspiration (or "panic" might also be a good word for it) because I must get this paper done before hubby and I leave for our trip across the country. So, here I am, sitting at home surrounded by every book on this topic known to man. I've taken notes on about 90% of the books and articles so far, so now I just need to start piecing the puzzle together and get this thing done. I have about a week left to work on it, but I hope to be done by the end of the week.

Yesterday a wonderful friend helped me sort out my ideas into a more attractive argument, but more importantly, she gave me confidence to find the good in what I already had and then find a better way to say it. So...yesterday I had eight pages and now I have four. But, the four that I have now are leaps and bounds better than the eight that I had yesterday; and, no matter how one looks at it...that's some sort of progress. My new paper topic deals with the same two novels that I've been working on all along, The Moonstone and The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins. I'm fascinated by the absence of certain female narratives, and the representation and misrepresentation of evidence because of these lost words.

I teach writing and literature classes at the college level, and sometimes I watch my students with envy as they sweat out their five-page essays. If only academic careers were as simple as stating an argument and trying to prove it! It's not the argument that trips me up, I often think. It's the context of all of the other scholarship that I'm supposed to know by now, live, breathe, spout out at the drop of a hat, and be able to reference intelligently.

Do you ever feel like that in your line of work, whether business or academic, or something else? Do you feel like you could be 100% if you could just worry about your own ideas and not have to contextualize them within the community's? There are days when I love the academic conversation and thrive on it. There are other days, like today, when the piles of books no longer comfort me but instead confuse me and send me tumbling into my own writing with too many unconnected ideas. It's time to shut the books and just write. That's the best thing I could do for myself at this point.


Veronica said...

You can do it!! Rock on :)

MamaErin said...

I actually miss writing papers sometimes. I remember how much I truly enjoyed writing my senior sem. paper and what a sense of accomplishment I felt after all 25 pages were perfected. You're doing an amazing job Karen- I don't know anyone else who has more on their plate than you do and you always come out on top. Keep it up!!

Heather J. said...

Totally unrelated to this post, but I just wanted to say thanks for commenting on my blog - I haven't seen your name there before so it was meet a new-to-me blogger. And I'm always glad to find another Jane Eyre fan. :)

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