On writing and bottle wrenches
So in preparation for actually writing my Tibetan paper I’m taking a deep breath of sorts and reading through all my notes and (finally!) transcribed interviews and papers from the semester, and I’ve come to the somewhat distressing conclusion that the first half of what I write for a long paper is utter crap. Maybe not utter crap, but awkwardly composed and rather more rambling and less coherent than I would like. The equally distressing corollary of this result is that I will either a) have to settle for a less-than-stellar first half of my paper, b) finish a few days early so I have time to heavily revise, or c) suck it up and make sure I do a good fifteen pages of brain-farting before I start writing for real.
Or I could try to tame my raging perfectionism and realize that’s it’s probably okay if my paper isn’t dissertation-quality.
A more heartening realization that I’ve come to this morning is that I am capable of pumping out massive amounts of writing under the kind of time pressure I’m facing now. It’s very bizarre to look back on last semester and realize that, not only was I in India when I was doing all this reading and writing and thinking and interviewing, but I very well might still be over there right now, sitting in Moonpeak or First Cup or Ten Yang practicing my Tibetan (now extremely rusty) instead of listening to Belle & Sebastian at Starbucks. I’m really glad that I came home when I did, especially after my exciting soirée with dysentery, but I can’t help but wonder where I might be right now if I hadn’t. To be honest, I’d probably be miserable, hearing what all my Williams friends are up to this summer and reading all of the “zomfg america is the best it has hot showers and hamburgers and potable water!!” emails from the program folks. But I would also probably be much worldlier and maybe a little bit wiser, if less prepared for an academic career in cognitive science. So, like I said, I don’t really regret my choices regarding this summer, and I think I’ve grown just as much being here in Bloomington as I would have if I were somewhere in Asia, but I do have to wonder.
(Photo above of the Klein bottle wrench, seen on the Toolmonger blog, which I came across when googling “kleinbag”. I must have one of these.)