Writing a dissertation is an isolating endeavor. The majority of my work is done when I’m alone. I have stopped trying to write my dissertation in my apartment, where my two cats and the temptations of games, TV, chores, and snacking are too easy to fall for; I instead always go to the public library, the Graduate Center, or a cafe instead. But even when surrounded by other people in a public place, to do the work, I have to put in my headphones and tune out the rest of the world. Complicating this is the protectiveness that I feel about my research. My dissertation is not finished, so it’s not perfect, so I don’t want to share it for fear of people getting the wrong idea about my work. When people ask “what’s your dissertation about?”, I tend to give my elevator pitch but change the subject at the next organic opportunity; when people ask how the writing is going, I’ll say “it’s going!” or “fine!” without boring them with details.
This is sort of a confession of problems I have in the writing process—problems I hope to alleviate with this blog. I want to have a place to share my ideas in a more conversational tone, to ask questions and think “out loud”, to link to on my Twitter and get feedback from those who are interested. I am also looking forward to putting my writing process on display. For History of Theory class early in my Ph.D., I translated part of a treatise by a 19th-century German, Johann Christian Lobe. He wrote “Even the greatest and most learned geniuses don’t have roasted doves flying into their mouths.” This isn’t a humble-brag or a name drop—this charming and ever-so-19th-century-German quote truly has stuck in my mind ever since I read it. The point is, of course, that everyone has rough drafts, revisions, and junk ideas. It’s not a new idea, but writing-as-a-process could always use more emphasis in academic life. I want to contribute to that with this blog. (It won’t hurt that I’ll also be getting my work on the internet, just a google away from curious eyes…)
I intend to share snippets of dissertation work, as well as passing thoughts on other musical or academic topics. Enjoy!