Skip to main content

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. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Cocktail Party

I had drinks with a friend after a long seminar tonight, and for the first time in a while, I didn't stagger to my car exhausted and then sit in traffic for 90 minutes (that's right, it takes me 90 minutes to go 11 miles #LosAngeles) and then collapse for an hour and then go back to work for another 3 hours before crawling into bed (I am taking too many classes this quarter).  Instead, I had two glasses of wine and a little dinner, and I got to talk to a great person who is willing to share a lot of knowledge with me as well as some genuine pleasantness.  It reminded me of the olden days when my social life and my academic life were centered around the same place and task, and it lightened the load quite a bit.

That moment of levity at the end of the day.  Ah.  We need it.  No reading.  No striving.  No obligations.  The wine or cocktail is key.  You're always pausing when you have a drink.  You're being a little bad.  You're working against your evening productiv…

I Don't Know

I've noticed a phenomenon in many areas of my verbal life wherein the phrase "I don't know" opens, closes, or rests in the middle of a phrase.  The more I listen for it, the more I am struck by its ubiquity, yet these phrases have nothing to do with the parameters of the speaker's knowledge.

In a seminar:  "I don't know, but I think he's saying..."

Among friends discussing the news: "Um, I don't know, but I feel like this could have been avoided..."

Two girls shopping:  "Is this cute?  Right?  I don't know."

Some guys on a walk: "I mean, I don't know, but was that the best choice..."

High school students in class: "I don't know, but don't you kind of feel like..."

Are we really so tentative?  Is our own knowledge so slippery that we cannot be certain of our opinions?  Do we doubt our own knowledge, we who may spend about 15-20 years of our lives in full-time, formal education or many ho…

Life Craft

Finals weeks are misery for me.  Sometimes I catch a wave of inspiration and weep into my keyboard, but those moments are rare.  I am not having one yet this time around.  I took too many classes this quarter and thus couldn't start my papers until it was too late to wait around for Muses.  And when I say I took too many classes that is not a request for applause at my ambition.  It was a mistake.  A mistake that reflects how desperate I am to be finished with my coursework so I can move on to Dante and do some real thinking that is not geared toward a 3AM slapdash 25 page paper.  And hopefully then this program will become enjoyable for me and not a daily reminder of the huge mistake I made deciding to go here.

As I have been trying to piece together a Boccaccio paper over the past three days, I've spent way more time on the internet than I normally do.  Especially Vogue, a publication I used to read regularly and haven't honestly read in several years.  I watched a bunch…