So last year on Spring Break I ran away to New Mexico for a week and hid out in Georgia O’Keeffe’s red and lavender mountains. It was lovely. I needed it.
This year, I needed it again, but instead of running away, I stayed home. I needed to do that, too, so I could write and study.
I have this qualifying paper I’m working on, about Chickasaw constructions of identity in digital space. I wrote it for my last course as a graduate student. I thought it was good, then. Of course, it wasn’t. Seminar papers rarely are (at least mine aren’t). I don’t have enough time to think, enough time to process the sources and the information. Plus, I was working through a lot of my own academic angst at the time and the paper ended up being a way to vent some of that angst, and not actually a way to study Chickasaw identity. Thankfully, I had a professor for that class that understands that writing is a process, and that research is a process, too.
I cut what was, at first, a 21 page paper down to 18 pages, just by condensing some of my longer quotations. Then I reorganized everything. Then I was told I didn’t really have a thesis. So I wrote a new introduction for the paper, where I didn’t use any quotations from my sources. Just paraphrase. That was about 6 pages. Then, I cut out the long sections of the paper that were about canon formation and arguing for the need to make the canon more inclusive. (we’ve already agreed it needs to be more inclusive, so all of that was just reinventing the wheel). Then, I cut some more long sections. By the time I was done, my 21 page paper was something closer to 7 pages.
Today, I just sent off a draft to my advisor. It’s now 29 pages. I wanted to be done with this project a while ago. I really should have been done with it much earlier, but I’ve had some setbacks personal and otherwise. Depression and anxiety have been my companions for a while now, and I wasn’t doing so well at managing them for quite some time.
In spite of the somewhat unreasonable amount of time it’s taken me to get this paper to the point it’s at now, I’m proud of it. I haven’t ever done quite such an extensive overhaul on my writing. So even if it isn’t done yet (these things never are, right?) I still have a piece of work that I’m proud of. I’ve learned a lot from writing this paper, and I think I have something valuable to offer.
Now, I have another paper to revise (this one on Langston Hughes and ethnography), and a chapter of my dissertation to draft, by the end of the month.
Totally doable, right? Sure, that’s what spring break is for.