I had an interesting revelation last night when I was thinking about this blog. I realized I never keep drafts here. I pretty much write and publish just what is on my mind. I set out an amount of time (often in conjunction with Silent Writers or other online writing groups like Reverb10) and I just get out what’s batting around in my head.
And that single thought was amazingly liberating.
As an academic, I scrutinize every word I produce, considering the political impact of phrasing and word choices. I carefully construct my critiques of other people’s work so that I demonstrate my knowledge on the subject, and how my work contributes to an already ongoing conversation. I often worry. Sometimes, I fret.
The whole process is bothersome.
Especially considering the end result is considered by an incredibly small group of people. Matt Might demonstrated this concept with a stunningly accurate visual representation here. His main idea, though, was to help Ph.D. students keep their heads as they work on their projects. This is an important point, and one that helped me put the whole thing in perspective as I finished.
But what I’m thinking about now is all those little dots, all those arrows that push on the boundary of what we know. Who is paying attention to all those arrows?
Chances are the only people paying attention are people with arrows of their own.
I’m not saying this like it’s a bad thing – it’s the way the academy works. Do I think it’s time for a change? Yes, absolutely and I think the change is coming. It’s slow but it’s coming along.
But for now, I am going to focus on the writing I do in this space, where I can “think out loud to myself” and consider all the crazy ideas that pop into my head on a semi-daily basis.