So the all-nighter that I had planned that night … it didn’t happen. It kind of happened, I was up until about 4, but I was only writing until about 1. I still think I had a good plan in the sense of getting the stress out of the way; I think the problem was identifying where that stress came from. Stress doesn’t come from an all-nighter. It’s the other way around. Which is probably why it didn’t work.
It did work last night, though, more or less; I was up until 5, and there was a lot of writing done. But it wasn’t the writing that I wanted to get done. It was note-making, and planning, and mapping out an argument. And so now today I’m right where I didn’t want to be: I have yet to write a single goddamn word of this revised chapter, and it’s due tomorrow morning.
For the past 5 days I have been very, very intensely working on this thesis. I have been deeply engaged with it. I have been committed to it. And I remembered the other day how wonderful it felt to be committed to a writing project; it felt great with Tallulah, it felt great for my Nano novel (which has been on the back-burner while I dealt with this thesis), and it feels great with this thesis. And it’s woken me up to the possibility that I might actually be totally fine with an academic career. I really do enjoy this stuff. It’s just that my default relationship with academia has been to see it as a chore, as a means to an end, as an escape tactic to quell my anxiety and depression that gets triggered whenever I’m faced with the prospect of trying to find a job, something I could rely on for income so that I could focus on writing. (Don’t ask me why I find the prospect of a PhD less daunting than trying to find a desk job, because fucked if I know.)
I never actually considered that I might actually enjoy it for its own sake. And I think I do. A lot.
So this is new for me. I’m not sure what to do with it – other than, of course, continuing to be intense about academia. I’ve been working on this thing throughout the day for the past 5 days, and it’s felt amazing, like it’s cleansing my blood. Today will be a stressful day simply because I have so much “actual work” to do, but at the same time I have done a lot of work in general to make this thing coherent. And the one good thing about being up against a deadline is that it forces you to prioritise. Not everything that’s in my current chapter can stay in it, and even less of it works, so I have a lot of editing decisions to make. But the way I’ll get through this is by knowing that, after I’m done writing it, I won’t have stopped working. That’s the lesson I’ve taken out of this. Not the one I expect, like it wasn’t with nano, but a good one nonetheless.
Which is to just keep writing, because goddammit it feels good to commit.