I am writing the book I need to finish to get to the one I actually want to write.
I am writing my dissertation.
And it's more than researching academic papers endlessly or making sense of academic writing and research methods which is bad enough.
It's about dealing with the anxiety of not having the time to write or not knowing what to write in the face of looming deadlines. It's negotiating deadlines on the school, home and work front and still finding the mental space to untangle the answers to the many problems that come with the work itself.
Sometimes I am stuck under a cloud for longer than I would be if I didn't let the fear of failure paralyse me. Sometimes it's the cloud itself that will only dissipate when I am good and ready, so I put the work aside and do something else.
And I tell the task master and the time keeper in my head that it takes as long as it takes.
In the beginning, I couldn’t find a topic that was mine.
With each topic I flirted with (and there were at least 4), I would fill folders with research for months before discovering that the topic wasn’t working and starting again.
It seemed fruitless until finally, I found the elusive gap in the literature that my work could fill.
Although I stumbled my way to it, it was unmistakably what I had set out to research without knowing it.
And it couldn’t have happened any earlier.
Of course, I would have preferred to avoid my early failures but I would also have missed out on the pleasure of figuring it out.
And all this is good practice for the other book- the one I am living now to write later.
I've written about writing my book here, here and here but don't be like the time keeper in my head!