Professing * Reflecting

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


The article is done and sent. I am so relieved. It was one of those projects that just weighs more heavily than others. It was a bastard to write and I am not sure at all that it will fly. But you know what? I did what I needed to do in the time I had to do it and let the thing go. I will see how it works out in the end, but for now I am pleased with myself that I am freeing myself a bit from the stranglehold of my perfectionist writing self.

I am not someone who needs to have everything in perfect order. For example, I spent all of the money I had on the garret three years ago, which has prevented me from finishing all that needs to be finished in terms of painting, decorating, etc. I do this and that here and there, when I have time. The place is a work in progress, and that's fine with me.

(Having said this, I will admit that I am still bullshit angry at Demetrius for leaving in the middle of building my built-in bookshelves, which he promised to complete BEFORE I moved in, to go on tour with a little punk rockstar whose name I will not mention but who really should do something about that finger-in-light-socket-hair, dippy-singer-songwriter aesthetic. I do not care how good a gig it was, Demetrius, you owe me. So those remain unfinished. The shelves that he managed to kind of finish are now, three years later, ripping out of the wall. The study is totally unorganized and my books are for the most part everywhere in no particular order. This sucks for an academic. The moral of this story is: do not hire a bassist to build your study, even if that bassist is also a carpenter. So, yes, I am uptight about this travesty, but hey it's been three years and a) I have not killed him, and b) work in the disarray of the study continues.)

I also do not mind plans changing at the last minute (unless those plans include my carpenter-bassist going on tour) and actually prefer and most enjoy those activities that are completely spontaneous, whether it's dinner or a Madonna concert or a weekend trip. In short, I am generally and maybe to a fault very laid-back. This drives certain people (like the Grand He, boyfriend of a few brief months last year, who tried to have me scheduled into 2010 before I knew it) crazy.

When it comes to my work, though, I am an insane perfectionist. I am so not laid-back about my writing and research. I am meticulous. The research must be thorough. The argument must be tight. The writing must be precise. The same does not apply to my teaching. I can roll into a class totally unprepared and do fine. For me winging it with no more than an outline of notes or ideas makes for a better class. With the writing, though, I usually give myself fits. I can see myself lightening up a bit. I do not maintain such sadistic control over creative projects, whether it's creative writing or painting or whatever. I can see how importing some of that sensibility to my academic writing would free me up a bit. The insane thing is that I enjoy the rigor of the work. I like working through the puzzle of a certain text or theory, within fairly tight boundaries. But that involves a certain letting go as well, and I am only happy when I get into the flow of it. Much of the time on this project I felt panicky and slightly miserable. I do not think I ever achieved that flow, and in the end it had to done and I had to be less than happy with it. And that has to be okay. So it is. (And that's a breakthrough for me.)

I started this post with the idea that I would blog about being free from smoking. For those of you who were reading here last summer, you know I was quite miserable and quite vocal about it for weeks on end. I have been reading back over those posts, and I want to do a thoughtful post on quitting--not on the "secrets" of quitting but on how there are no secrets, on how it just plain sucks day after day until it doesn't. I also want to post on my disappearance in the fall and winter and, as much as I can, about the reasons for it. It has to do with The Boy of the recent breakup, about finding out who he was and who I was and most of all what we were not together. It also has to do with suckiness in the job because of my particular institution, which is the part of it that I will not be blogging. But I do want to get all of it out and off my chest, in whatever why I can. Sometimes I think the problems I have with writing and writer's block have less to do with my perfectionism and more to do with what I am not saying. I cannot write what I need to write NOT because I do not have the ability but because there is something more important to say, something more vital that I need to express.

So some reflection is on tap. Today, though, I am going to relax and let myself be free free free. I think it might be one of those few glorious days a year that I feel absolutely no guilt about not working.



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