I started this blog for several reasons, one of which was to find a way out of writer’s block—specifically, the complete mental paralysis caused by trying to write academically. I can write in a scholarly way, and have done it successfully in the past—theory, methodology, analysis, research, detail, dry-dry-dry tone—but it doesn’t come naturally. And, turns out that having broken through the writer’s block, and getting some momentum going again on the academic project—I’m just left feeling completely drained of all creative thought. Which is why my blog has been languishing a little lately (did you miss me?? tell me you missed me!!)
I’ve started several posts in the last couple of weeks, and have made note of ideas for others—but when I sit down to write, I either run out of steam after the first couple of paragraphs, or, more commonly, I’m overcome with guilt that I’m not working on the Truly Important Stuff (because in the academic world, if you’re writing things that non-academic people read—like my little reviews on TripAdvisors that have put me in the top 10% of Boston contributors, with over 11,000 readers—that gets you nowhere; we demand erudition, please-and-thanks-very-much, and the exclusivity that we call “rigor”…). So, yeah—languishing.
If I had enough psychic energy (the non-neurotic kind which would let me indulge my little creative whims with a clear conscience), I’d write about some/all of the following:
- the experience of watching Pretty Woman again for the first time since its release in 1990, and being mystified by the narrative of rescue/salvation/dependence/redemption (Gere: “…And what happened after the prince climbed up the tower to rescue the princess?” Roberts: “She rescued him right back.” [They kiss, and the camera pulls back to reveal them on the fire-escape, the chauffeur waiting by the white limo below, and the Interesting Hollywood Crazy-Wise-Black Man striding past, declaiming to passers-by that any dream can come true in Hollywood]…)
- how, motivated by that ridiculous narrative, because I don’t make any rational choices EVER when it comes to romance—I started internet dating again, which consequently means that I’m undergoing all manner of crises of self-doubt and insecurity. How does one be herself while—forced to play against type—selling herself at the same time? (Pretty Woman doesn’t really answer those questions, it just teaches me to wait around until Prince Charming offers me the 2014 equivalent of $3000 for a week of my undivided attention). I worry more than I need/want to about the problem of leagues, specifically who’s in or out of mine. I get attention from the guys I don’t want (speaking of leagues, I will NOT answer you if you can’t spell pharmasutical [sic] right, when you’re saying that’s your JOB), then fret about being passed over by the ones I (think) I do want (based on nothing more than their online attempt to sell themselves to me).
- assuming I actually get some interesting/amusing offers from the online-dating expedition, I could tell you witty, yet poignantly incisive stories about what I learn about human nature and heterosexual men’s fashion
- and since I’m in the throws of trying to sell myself (now I’m talking about the exigency of getting this academic project done..), I could offer some views about the mis-placed and antiquated priorities of scholarly publishing. I could critique, with cheerfully-merciless destructive intent, the whole business model: the detective novel I’m currently reading has sold millions of copies, and is in its umpteenth edition, selling for about $7; the academic book that makes me feel bad about my whole career sells for about $50, and if the author sells 20,000 copies ever she can consider herself lucky—and her remuneration for that effort will come mainly in professional accolades, not money. Academics don’t generally get paid in cash for the articles and books they write. And how many people are we really reaching? what policies are we actually influencing?
- which makes me want to move on to a critique of the academic job market, and the truly shameful inequities there, from adjunct professor to full-time to administrator to president. Other writers have covered this well in recent days—but I have some things to say about how full-time faculty tend to think of themselves as underdogs, when we need to realize that in fact, mirroring inequality in society as a whole, we’re more like the 1%, or maybe the 10%, in relation to the vast majority of under-employed grad students and contingent faculty, and as a consequence we need to accept, and then get over, our own privilege….
- and because my professional concerns might worry me more than my personal ones, but I can’t help finding the latter ever so much more absorbing (which is why, perversely, I worry so much about the professional ones, because I’m always afraid I don’t give them enough focus and dedication)—I’d go back to writing about dancing, and dating, and my ongoing bemusement/befuddlement at how complicated relationships with other people are. I struggle with the kick-ball-change-double-axle-into-a-cross-body-lead-into -inside-turn combo in salsa (if that even is a combo—I could be making that up in place of actual knowledge, alas; I’m certainly making up the punctuation for it); I struggle with gender and sexual relationships on the macro, societal level; and I struggle with friendships and romance on the micro, personal level. And because I think, and overthink, about all of that, I feel like I have plenty to say that I can share with the world—except not for right now, because I have to push through reading 4 more sources, figure out where I’m going to put them, fret about whether my conclusion, and the whole article, will satisfy its readers, and endure this self-imposed feeling of being chivvied, harried, and harassed for a few more days until I can get this thing done and get on with…something/everything/anything else.