Dissertation purgatory

Just popping my head out of the dissertation writing trenches to say a quick hello before ducking back down and soldiering on.  I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing dissertation since the new year. I see its themes everywhere I look: in commercials, in news stories, in things people say. I have about two weeks until a complete draft of my dissertation is due to my committee, and am on track to finish a month after that(!!!). Despite a surprising, and energizing, high point that made me feel like a kick-ass scholar for about a week, it’s mostly drudgery. I can’t wait to be done, and it’s such a relief to feel like it’s actually going to happen. I’ve been superstitiously cautious about being overconfident, but I really do think the end is in sight.

I was so excited to read on universityoflies’s recent post that I am not the only one who’s had to answer the question, “How’s your paper going?” I wouldn’t really care if it was a friend asking, but it was my mom, and it happened during most of our phone conversations. “How’s your paper coming along?” Annoyed that the pinnacle of my academic career was being reduced to so flimsy a signifier, I would routinely correct her: “It’s not a paper; it’s a dissertation.” Her usual response: “What’s the difference?” I said it was “more like a book, but not really a book, because it won’t be published, but about that long.” After enough repetitions of this script, she’s now started asking, “How’s the book going?”

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