Struggling Toward a New Ending…

Uh, Hi. I’m Stewgad, Ph.D.  Been a while, eh?

For years I wrote this blog as I desperately/slowly tried to finish my dissertation while I held down a full-time tenure-track job, raised a baby, and managed a marriage. It was a trip and a half, that’s for sure. (see previous blog posts.)

Then, I did it. I finished the Ph.D.  (Yay!)  At the same time, I stopped blogging. (Boo!)  I did this for a number of reasons:

Good Reason #1: After I finished the Ph.D., I was dreadfully sick of it. And of myself. And of my whole drama around its completion. I needed some space from it, and stepping away from the blog was a one way to find some of  that space.

Good Reason #2: I got INSANELY paranoid about blogging while I was up for tenure.  There have just been too many ugly stories circulating about online indiscretions (or perceived indiscretions) having bad consequences for academic bloggers. I felt extremely vulnerable without tenure, and while I was going through that process, (which was about as fun as getting a root canal WHILE finishing a dissertation) I figured it would be way too tempting to me to bitch about it here. And that would not have been a good idea.

Good Reason #3: I was tired, drained, and had no words left.  Especially not extra words that I could spill out over the internets. For a little while, I thought I’d try Twitter, ’cause, you know, all the cool kids were doing it.  And for someone who felt like she didn’t have any words, being constrained by the, like, 10 characters they allow seemed refreshing.  But I quickly discovered that Twitter sucks.  Ok, well, maybe not sucks, exactly.  But let’s just say, it’s not for me. I could just never get the hang of the short statement, and I remain completely confused by the tweet-speak linguistic alterations it seems to require. It makes me feel old.

Most critically, over the past couple of years, any energy I had couldn’t go to Twitter or the Blog – it had to go into getting tenure and turning my dreadfully hated (by now) dissertation into a book.

Which brings me to today: I’m a tenured professor, with a kindergardener, (I know, right?  The Gadlet’s FIVE!), a happy-more-often-than-not continuing marriage, and…. a book contract.  Gulp.

I know, I know, great news.  But it also means that I have to take this book manuscript-that-was-once-my-dissertation and revise it for publication. And, it turns out, all of that anxiety I had about writing did NOT go away with the Ph.D. or with Tenure.  I can’t decide if that is because I lived with the fear so long it has become an ingrained part of me I’m stuck with forever, or if it is just a bad habit like chewing hangnails that a little willpower and some cuticle ointment will cure.

Until I find that fabled Fear-of-Writing-Failure miracle ointment, though, I’m reviving the blog to help me work through the fear.  I’m hoping that being open about my writing struggles will not only help me with the process, but also perhaps help others who are in the Ph.D. process, or beyond, who also grapple with writing issues.  So in the next few months, I plan to check back in pretty regularly and post updates about my progress.  For a more daily account, I’ll fire back up the Evil Twitter feed (Stewgad or Pretty Hard, Dammit should bring it up if you want to follow me) to report in on what I do each day. I know, yawn. But, really, I think most of writing is about accountability — and if you can’t be your own accountability accountant, you must recruit others, be they dear friends or random internet strangers, to do it for you.

Thanks for reading.  Tune in next time for the continuing adventures of Stewgad in Writingland….

7 responses to “Struggling Toward a New Ending…

  1. Yay!!! (not about the fear, but about the blog revival.) I’ve been reading this blog for quite some time now, checking back periodically for updates, and had to do a double take when I saw that you’d finally posted again. I’m in the process of finishing the diss (gulp) so it’s been inspiring to follow your journey. Congrats on everything and I look forward to reading more!

  2. Stewgad, how lovely to see you back again! I’m delighted to hear about your getting tenure, and it does seem almost impossible to believe that the Gadlet is going to kindergarten now. Crazy.

    Welcome back!

  3. Nice to see you back! I have no insight on academic writing any more, but I wish you luck through the process!

  4. Reading your blog saw me through the most stressful writing period for my MA dissertation and gave me hope that perseverance and dedication would get me through. I’m now almost a year into my PhD. I’m so delighted you’re blogging again!!!

  5. Thanks guys! Nice to hear from you all! Keep me posted, Legalhistorygirl, and Faith about how your stuff is going!

  6. Your child is FIVE? And in kindergarten? Wow.

  7. Yay! I’m glad you’re blogging again and have so many great things happening. Congrats on tenure! Now I’M trying to finish my dissertation :-)

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