Perspective

I’m getting to point in my exam reading where I sort of have to stop writing. This means, of course, that I’m having a million ideas, all the time, about stuff I want to write, but in a kind of frenzied, manic, ADD sort of way that is, ultimately, not productive. I’ve figured out a way to write, just a little, and link it up to my exam reading. I hope it will be good and funny and interesting.

The thing about getting a PhD is that it’s easy to lose perspective. My whole life right now is 18th and 19th-century fiction. I don’t really even read the news anymore. Losing perspective is a bad thing for writing. That’s how things get insular and stuck in the whirlpool of academia. Getting a PhD has meant whittling down my world a bit (all that focus!) and though this has done great things for my writing, sometimes, thematically, I feel a little impoverished, a little in need of an experience (any experience) that isn’t sitting at my desk or lesson planning or driving to school or teaching or sitting at my desk at school or grading. Especially grading. Let me do something that is the complete opposite of grading, like put a hammer through a huge piece of glass just for the sound, or dance for a really long time in a dark, sticky-hot room, with or without company. That is to say: the life of the mind, I love it, but it tricks me into forgetting about this body. How could I not be jealous of Pym and Ishmael and Crusoe as I sit there in my library space chair, staring out those wall-sized windows onto the paved Soviet expanse of the library commons, my soul rattling around inside me like a dehydrated Grow Your Own Dinosaur? For a full minute this week, I thought about trying to get a job on a crab-fishing boat. I would like to drive the mini-v around Iowa and try out the little river and farm towns, climb up the spiral staircase at the Traer Star Clipper and roll an alpaca in Dubuque at the annual shearing. The end of the semester is coming. Some adventure has got to be just around the corner.

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