20 August 2010

A Subtle Shift

It's the end of the first week of my last year as a graduate student.

For me, happy = busy. Good news for my satisfaction, but bad news for my blog. I haven't posted in two weeks (or more?), and I've felt a distinct lack (Freud laffs) of self-reflection and joy in writing.

Not that I haven't been writing. Oh I have: a syllabus (from scratch; I refused to copy/paste this time around), paper assignments, rubrics, scads of emails, and the rough beginning to one class assignment for a course I am taking. Hello, fall. And while I miss the unstructured days of summer, I welcome the organization forced by taking a class and teaching a class. I welcome side projects and brain breaks from the revision of the dissertation. By the way, I haven't started revising the dissertation yet.

Here's where I think my background in creative writing will pay off. I'm okay letting projects chill out. I'm fine with giving two weeks away to other projects while I gain both perspective on the diss and acquire new reading knowledge. But while this break is nice and necessary, my schedule has me revising come Monday. I'm excited to read what I've written. I've already forgotten.

Is is surprising that I can write something substantive and forget it? Maybe it's a feeling akin to how creative writers describe "inspiration." God breathes, right? But here, I find that another part of my brain operates while I write. Sharon Olds once described the feeling to me like this: "I was sitting at my desk, holding my pen, when a poem flew in through the window and landed on it. I'm excited to share that poem with you today!" While only part of the diss came in through the window--I fought hard for entire passages and one entire chapter--I am thankful for the parts that came to me like moving water. (I usually abhor metaphor in self-reflection, but sometimes I can see it working well.) I will never be one to deride the epistemological function of writing. I live that mess.

Here's what's different this year: After my summer spent writing, after feeling professionalized in out-of-department courses, and after much interaction with major professors in my discipline, I realized this week, the first week of my last year as a grad student, that I don't feel like a grad student anymore. I feel like a scholar and colleague, which is maybe premature, but as I taught my first upper-division course yesterday, I realized that I am where I need to be. The students seemed comfortable. I felt comfortable. I am able to use my reading knowledge and experience as a writer. And while I, like many advocacy-minded scholars, often question the relevancy of what I do to the broad struggles and suffering of the world as it is lived, on the ground, I celebrated this moment of coming into my own. It was a small non-event, in a rudimentary classroom in the education complex, and it was subtle, only I knew it had happened, but it was there. And I danced all the way back to McClung Tower.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay, Casie! I thought I'd stop lurking and let you know how much I'm enjoying your blog.

btw--My application to UNC-Greensboro for this year is still pending. So you never know...