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Boldness and Authorship

As the semester has drawn to a close here at Baylor, I have had to conclude a number of writing projects.  It is always hard to declare a piece of writing "finished," but I have found this to be especially difficult after grad school.  In the academic life cycle, a masters degree declares to the world that you are a work in progress.  At least this was the case for me, since I completed mine with the full intention to continue to a PhD, and this two-year delay is undesirable.  But as I hover in this liminal space as I wait to continue my education, I have found that I do still need to write things occasionally, and I have to do this with the knowledge that I am not the writer nor the expert that I someday will be.  There have been a few journalism projects that have come across my desk in the past few weeks, and I can't believe I am contributing to projects in areas in which I have zero special expertise.  And yet, I must read what I can, think carefully, write well, and send the project to the presses. 

You know, it has been liberating.  And I look at a lot of published writing with different eyes now.  Sometimes the only difference between authors and readers is that the authors wrote something and published it.  I give too many writers a little too much credit, I think, since I imagine they must all know a lot that I don't.  People write based on their instincts and observations alone, and they support their arguments with evidence that any dissertation advisor would deem inadequate. 

But every written word is not a dissertation or an academic book, nor does it need to be.  There is a world of discourse that happens at a different level, and it is worthy of our attention and respect.  I also observe that I doubt very much that this feeling will disappear once I have a doctorate.  I think writing takes bravery at every stage, regardless of our certifications and credentials. 

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