Well, I’m not. My last post was in May and its now the end of July. I don’t quite know where this year has gone. I have barely had time to think, let alone sit and write a blog post. Its been crazy. I am now finally coming to the end of my MA. I submit my final piece of work – the dissertation – on 6th September 2010. In some ways, that date cannot come soon enough. I really want to be free of the pressure of studying alongside my full time job. The last couple of weeks, as work has wound down for the summer, I seem to have remembered who I am again and what I do when I am not hard at work. For most of the year the answer to that question has been: eating and sleeping. (Oh and learning to drive, forgot I did that. That took quite a lot of time.) I have just started finding time to sit and think again (all my thinking was done on the way to work, or while walking to the supermarket) and time to go out with my friends, who must have been starting to think I had dropped out of existence. This is not me having a whinge (well, maybe a little bit) its more an acknowledgement to myself just how much work I have put in to my development over the last 18 months or so since I started my MA.
I have taken the week off work this week to crack on with writing up the dissertation. I have also interviewed two local writers, which was immensely good fun (really really it was) as well as really useful. Talking over my ideas with other people is always good, especially two that have such fascinating perspectives on the subject of my study. My dissertation is still focusing on reading and writing, more on what the process of reading entails and how a reader engages with a fictional text. I have taken a lot of inspiration from Barthes and his idea of ‘jouissance du texte’. For months I have struggled with the research, knowing I am fascinated by this subject and not really feeling I can do it justice. Over the last 3 weeks I have finally started to feel that I am finding my feet with it. (I have been working on this idea since March!!) Only now has the theory I’ve been reading started to become part of the furniture of my mind, so I can now quite happily manipulate them and try them out in different positions and in different relationships to each other. Instead of feeling like a hard slog, the work has started to feel exciting and I am more enthusiastic about it than I have been for a while now. I started writing the first draft of the dissertation about 3 or 4 weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised to find I could do it. I have now written two thirds of the first draft and it feels great to have actually properly embarked on it. Slowly I am feeling more and more like I am actually going to finish the bastard. I think that all along my fear has been that I will find that I really can’t do it, I really can’t finish the MA. Having completed all the taught courses, the only thing left to screw up was the dissertation and part of me was convinced that I would. In fact, until it is written and handed in I don’t think I will quite believe I am capable of it. Let us hope that I do manage to finish the darned thing. That does make me wonder why I am not convinced of my ability to suceed. Perhaps this doubt motivates me and prevents me from becoming complacent?
However, I keep having little thoughts wondering what on earth I will do when I really finish this MA. For a while now I have had a mental list of things to do when I finish. My friends are painfully aware that my favourite refrain at the moment is “when I finish my MA …” (imagine a whiny voice to go with it and you almost have me in front of you). This has been a bit like a carrot and stick effort – carry on slogging your guts out, Louise, and you will get a reward. The last few days, however, as I have been finding myself writing such a huge chunk of the first draft I am REALLY thinking that I will finish and I will have all this time on my hands. What the hell am I going to do with it?? What am I going to do with this blog is another, related, question. I think I will keep up the blog and will probably be able to update it more often. I quite like the idea of continuing to write about whatever it may be that is challenging me or motivating me. I also quite like the idea of filling in some details about the rest of my life, which was an idea in the back of my mind when I started writing this. Thing is, I like writing. I might not be good at it, but I like doing it and it helps me get stuff out of my head.
This afternoon, for example. I am wiped out today. I have spent the week working on my dissertation and have been beset by a nasty viral/cold thingie in the middle of the week. This hit me on Tuesday, but I had an interview to go and do so I went and did it. I felt pretty rubbish, snuffley and a bit woozy in the afternoon but I had to write. I have damn well taken this leave from work as unpaid so I can get on with the dissertation and stop worrying about it so much. I was not going to waste time feeling ill! So I did. I woke up on Wednesday feeling shite, but again I needed to work. I took it easy, I didn’t focus as much as I had the other two days, but I at least achieved my minimum goal for the day (about 1,000 words on the draft). Yesterday I still felt a bit off, but I had an interview scheduled in the morning and I really wanted to have the second section drafted by the end of the day (about another 800 -1,000 words). I wrote about 800 words and finished the second section. Today I wake up and my symptoms have subsided, but I cannot will my body to rouse itself. It just isn’t happening. As it turns out, I have spent the morning lounging in bed waking up slowly and the rest of the day watching tv (I almost never do that) and surfing the net. Yet I am still wiped out, even now after a day of doing sod all. I tried to have a nap, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Why? I was too busy thinking. It is actually quite annoying, thinking about my dissertation, thinking about my ongoing project of finding a new job, thinking about how I deal with the world and other people and what I could do better, thinking about music, thinking about my family and when I next need to visit … it goes on. So I figured I would get up and write about some of it to get it out of my head. That usually helps. The stuff I would rather not post on my blog I will go and write about in my personal journal in a little while. Then perhaps I will be able to sleep this evening.
I know my Mum thinks I over analyse everything. She may have a point, but I think it is also just the way I work. Sometimes I don’t like it very much, but then other times it brings reward. It does make me something of a neurotic woman, I know that. Believe me, I have to live in my head and sometimes I would rather not. On the other hand it drives me to do what I do and get the most out of life so it tends to balance in the end. Not being unwell and getting enough sleep generally help I find. On that note, I am looking forward to finishing my dissertation and having more time to rest and perhaps having a bit more fun. Trouble is, even having fun is tiring. That is why you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew and why people invariably do.