Well, after days of struggling and ruminating and futzing and just generally wigging out, I have completed and submitted an abstract for a paper for an MLA panel. (You don't believe me about the struggling and ruminating and futzing? I spent like 4 hours and the front and back of a sheet of paper just trying to figure out a title, which ultimately I think turned out to be lame. And I'm not even talking about the actual time spent dealing with the abstract.)
I think that part of my anxiety about this MLA paper abstract had to do with the fact that this is the first time in an age where I've proposed something to a panel organizer whom I don't know, and also that the abstract is based on a projected path for one of the projected chapters of the NB, which I can't be sure of until I, I don't know, actually start with the actual writing of the book. Another part of the anxiety has to do with the fact that the focus of the paper is on something I've not looked at carefully since I was an undergraduate, so while I'm an expert on X generally (and yes, I'm just going to say that I am an expert, even though that feels pompous and stupid), I am totally not an expert on this small area of X studies. Which meant that before I felt confident writing the abstract, I felt like I needed to skim or at least think about skimming all of the scholarship on small area of X studies. And then to further complicate matters, while it's true that I am theoretically comfortable with the thesis statement for this imaginary conference paper (both comfortable with the theory I'll use and comfortable in theory with the scope of the project), I'm not entirely comfortable with the broader scholarly context of the idea, so that meant even more reading and more hand-wringing.
New scholarly paths are exciting and energizing and ultimately good, and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I'm not still dealing with the ideas of the dissertation/book or anything that links in an obvious way to them, but man, new scholarly paths are a heck of a lot of work. I will say this, though: I haven't been so excited about the research part of my job for a good long while, and this beats all of the bureaucratic bullshit I've been dealing with of late any day of the week.
After all of that, I was inspired and I vacuumed and cleaned the litter boxes and moved all of my anxiety (er, books and articles and notes and stuff) to the dining room table (so now instead of having the Living Room, Dining Room, and Bedroom of anxiety, I just have the Dining Room Table of Anxiety).
Tonight BES is coming by and we're going to have some wine and hang out. I feel like my Dining Room Table of Anxiety will be a comfort to her in this time of stressful waiting to hear on grad applications, but that may be a lie I'm telling myself to excuse my cluttered and slovenly ways.
You know what I'm most looking forward to about buying a house? Having a room that is solely dedicated to research stuff that only houses a desk, my books, my files, and music, which is not also the room where I keep the litter boxes and that pretends to be a second bedroom, even though nobody's actually slept in it for years. I look forward to having an actual dining room that does not become the repository of scholarly anxiety, an actual spare bedroom, and an actual location for filthy kitten places that is dedicated to kitten filth. This may be asking for too much, but a girl can dream.
But so anyway, enough of all of this. I need to feed the kitties and take a shower.
4 years ago