As the four people who still read my blog occasionally might notice, my postings have become a bit neurotic. Like goat people. Hungry goat people. Hungry goat people who want hot dish. This is a sure fire product of my impending graduation and the refusal of my university to acknowledge two dissertations in their stupid and pointless paperwork combined with too many rejections still coming my way. I was heartened to recently discover that Einstein, in his mid twenties, questioned why he was alive, and wrote to his parents saying maybe he shouldn't have been born. Therefore, my melancholoy will breed genius. It's inevitable.
But, some good things have been happening on the writerly front, so I will list them in an attempt to create some coherence and pretend I'm happy and everything is easier than it appears (or closer than they appear, like in a rearview mirror, you know....):
1) Two essays from the hybrid memoir are forthcoming in two journals: Sou'wester, aforementioned in an earlier post I do believe, and a special environmental issue of Amoskeag.
2) I won $1,000 last month for some poems of mine. I need to do that about 20 more times this year.
3) Ted Kooser will be publishing one of my poems from my other dissertation, a poetry manuscript, in his nationally syndicated column American Life in Poetry. It should appear in about 40 weeks. The man plans ahead.
4) I've sent out the last batch of essays to journals and contests and books to publishers, I hope for some time. It was a busy weekend. I will now focus on editing the memoir for the oral exam, and with an eye toward its full-blown submission to presses this summer: Borealis Books (Minnesota Historical Society Press), Milkweed Editions, University of Iowa Press, University of Nebraska Press.
5) Classes feel, to me, like they are winding down. But it's simply the calm before the storm: portfolios of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and the other class has a 10 page term paper. Class workshops, conferences, two field trips and a film will buffer spring break for our weary souls. Which is next week. Thank the Lords of Kobol. (2 episodes left and it's just now getting good! Don't abandon the Galactica! Don't do it! I love you BSG!!)
How do you prepare for defending your dissertation? I would think you would have already researched the topic until you're sick of it; do you take a Dale Carnegie course, or something? Fortunately graduating from medical school we never had to do that; they just handed some poor, sick guy to us to take care of and saw whether he survived (mine did).
Looking at the positive? Hmmm...it must be spring. Great things happen in spring.
"Therefore, my melancholy will breed genius. It's inevitable."
No need to breed it... it's already there. I'm convinced! Many people mistake genius for insanity, you know... ;)
Only idiots refuse to acknowledge the obvious--like your two dissertations.
Make that 5 people who read your blog. You're a talented writer and will build a following if you are able to keep at it. (Whether you will ever make money at it is another matter. Sadly, there is very little correlation between writing talent and the ability to make money as a writer.) Wishing you well in your disseration defense.
Sorry about the travails. Between the rabbits and the UI computers, sounds like you've had a horrid late winter. Congrats on getting the book done, good luck with the hustle and flow of post-grad-school employment. I'm curious who's on your committee, but maybe that's top secret.
Don--Think of my "sick guy" as a dissertation that needs some editing and revising. I have to mentally prepare too, you know--anxiety. Fear. Dread. Hope.
Layanee--Spring? It's 7 outside with a -10 windchill. Sigh.
Kate--Like, I know! My two dissertations are now one--I combined the titles with an "and." Stupid.
WF--Oh I'll keep writing. I have to. And the writing is half of it--I think you have to market yourself, too, unfortunately. I don't know if I can pimp myself to the degree I need to. I can do readings and book signings, I imagine, but I just won't twitter.
Karen--I think I got the rabbits under control! Now to the squirrels. Ha. My committee is no secret, they're on my website: Grace Bauer, Hilda Raz, John Janovy, Ted Kooser.
Wow! congratulations on the publications and all! That is awesome! :) Ya, Jackie was telling me about all the paperwork. That is just insane. You have done all the work, why all the red tape???
PS Oh sorry, didn't see them listed. I don't know those folks - lived in IC in the early 90s so there's been a lot of faculty turnover since then, I guess. Best wishes for it all to work out, and I say go for it with your hell strip! I know you can do something creative. Some neighbors will be shocked, but maybe others will be inspired. You will have left your mark in the neighborhood forever if you get people to garden even just a tiny bit more radically and creatively, I think.
Hello my dear Benjamin, your manic rantings used to worry me, but I now realize that is your schtick, and you are so good at it too. As for trying to act happy, that is the very best road to take. As my therapist, and she knows who she is! says, fake it 'til you make it. And that is so true. You tell people you are doing all right, that everything will work out for the best enough times, that you finally start believing it. Then you relax some, and life just seems so much easier. Your talent will shine through the darkness of now. Grasshopper. Like spring will warm the winter's chill.:-)
Hag in there, friend--it is all just part of the very, very special hell that is the doctorate. ;-)
You can add to your list that one of your essays is in review for an essay on garden literature. You will probably hear something shortly--just as soon as that editor unburies herself from student advising for fall term.
Spring break is coming...
And WOOT! for wining $1000 for your poems!
Hey Benjamin!...Some of us read, but do not comment every time! Not only that..I share your blog with a son who is working on his doctorate in Evolutionary Biology....
I am totally into cognitive restructuring;-)
Fantastic news on the publishing front, btw.
A--The red tape is so that you don't forget who you are: cheap labor.
Karen--I'm in love with yellow dogwood for the strip. Where is IC? Are we talking Nebraska? I'm not from here....
Frances--My schtick? I like that. They are calling for 70 next Tuesday and Wenesday--that is a no pants day if I ever heard of one.
Susan--Yeah, when will that editor get going and reject me? I have work out to 40 journals and maybe 10 contests right now. We shall see.
Gail--Evolutionary biology sounds way cool! A lot harder than writing I bet, but neat.
So I sneak off to read your blog, late on a Friday night, with a grant proposal open on the screen - and just laugh. This week a doctoral student of mine asked why the hell she was doing this to herself - and I burst out laughing and said that I didn't know. And then - once I collected myself, I told her that it was because it was fun. This weird, odd, strange, wonderful addiction to learning for the sake of learning - yeah, there's the constant grant rejection, the manuscript critiques, the egotistical (maniacal...) colleagues, the low pay, the absurd hours, the...oh, come on now, you know that you love it too.
Is Ted Kooser really on your committee? If so, I'm jealous as hell!
Pam--My wife, also a PhD in English, asks the same thing of me every day. Sometimes it can be fun, but after 9 years I need a break. Too many hoops. And what is it really all for? I just want my 50 acres and a writing shed. And yup, Ted is on my committee. I've worked with him for years. He has even agreed to publish a poem of mine via his newspaper column American Life in Potery in about, oh, 39 weeks.
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