Thoughts on Writing (and other products of my procrastination)

8 12 2007

In the past three days, I have spent a total of 20 hours in the library with my nose in some fascinating and not-so-fascinating 19th century material. First off, I think we need to give at least the second half of the 19th century some serious props for doing some serious work in terms of education, philosophy, writing, lecturing (lots of lecturing), having riots about who was more awesome: Catholics or Calvinists. I’ve been focusing on the educational movement that took place under the leadership of Horace Mann (the man to whom we owe much thanks for the beginnings of No Child Left Behind). Bronson Alcott (Louisa May’s father) was a tasty piece of Transcendental ass–he was in the philosophical bed with the big boys like Emerson (who called him a “world builder”) and Thoreau (whom Louisa supposedly had the hots for). If you’re interested in the Alcotts, check out Eden’s Outcasts. It’s really interesting, it’s like looking through the Marches in Little Women–add a Transcendental commune, a few (brilliant) failed schools, lots of lectures, a few more deaths and you’ve got the Alcotts.

So when I haven’t been reading or writing, I’ve been finding ways to procrastinate. Here’s what happens every two hours or so: Check email, make playlists, get on facebook (send a few hatching presents, chuck a book or two), check email, read my friends’ blogs, check my phone (no messages), ask someone to watch my stuff so I can go pee (and possibly smoke a cigarette, depending on how late it is and how desperate I am), get some water, settle in and check email/facebook one last time. Sometimes the sequence of events varies, but it stays more or less the same. I have found that the more I write, the more painful it gets–writing never gets “easy” because it’s never done. In every paper I write, there is a point at which I feel as though I simply cannot, will not pull it off. Grad school is the marines of academic writing. Right now, I feel as though I am living the scene in G.I. Jane where they’ve been doing whatever kind of hellish training they do all day and they’re made to sit and write all night long with sleepytime classical music playing. Oh, and they’re cold and wet. At least I’m not cold and wet.

I have found that music is key because it’s the only thing that keeps your brain alive during the long haul to a paper’s due date. Playing on my ipod right now: George Winston (December and Summer), Enya (Shepherd Moons), Miles Davis and Coltrain (I don’t know what the albums are–it’s a collection I put together in college), some French music, and a few soundtracks (Finding Neverland, Meet Joe Black, Braveheart, Upside of Anger, Piano).




2 responses

9 12 2007

Please to remind me to tell you my story about Emerson, Emerson’s wife, and Thoreau, if I haven’t already.

Good luck on the papers, Big Whit — soon, soon it will be finished! We should totally have a Starbucks date. You have officially made me ADDICTED to Starbucks.

9 12 2007

Thank you for the encouragement… looking forward to your CREEPEE story (as you never disappoint)

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