I like to make grand declarations. And when I feel passionate about something, I speak in absolutes and sometimes even hyperbole. That’s why, when I run into acquaintances who read my post about academia a couple weeks ago, they’re surprised to hear I haven’t quit grad school yet. What I’m here to tell you today is I’m probably not going to quit grad school at all.
I’ve been looking for work for the last couple of months, and, feeling optimistic about the prospects, imagined I’d be faced with the uncomfortable but ultimately pleasant task of resigning from my position as a TA in order to take a full time job in a new field. Alas, it’s almost time to go back to the classroom and no job offer has appeared on my doorstep. Now, there are still a few pending resumes out there, and if the right offer comes, everything could change…but at the moment, it’s looking unlikely.
So there’s a new plan. The new plan is really the same as the old plan (the pre-PostAc plan). I’m going to teach my classes and write my dissertation. The key here is that I’m going to do it with a PostAc attitude (want to know more about what it means to be PostAc? Read this. I don’t agree with 100% of it, but it’s close enough to my stance on academia that it’ll have to stand in for now). This time, I’m setting my own hoops on fire. I’m going to write the poems I want to write and read the books I want to read. I’m done kissing academic ass and pretending that I don’t know how to think for myself. I’m done cowering and hoping my professors will approve of me. If they don’t like me/my work they can go the f*ck home. Or whatever. Since I no longer want the prize for playing the game properly, I feel liberated to break the rules. That feels quite nice.
And more importantly, this might be my last chance to live a “writer’s life” (assuming the rest of my days are filled with 9-5 jobs and external pressures to put pants on). I’ve set a goal of 2 new poems per week, 30 by the end of the semester, along with a regular schedule of sending work out for publication. I’m going to read books, learn everything there is to learn about the 1940s and 1950s in Cleveland, Ohio, watch mobster movies, and crank out a manuscript by winter break. This is a lofty goal, but I’ve always been an overachiever, and this is the kind of work I can happily dedicate 12-14 hours a day to.
The universe seems to be telling me not to move on prematurely. So I won’t. I’ll write the dissertation. I’ll postpone the job search a couple months and look again for 2014. This is okay. I’ll do my best to stop feeling like I’m stuck in limbo and instead focus on this time as an opportunity to write my second book of poems. That’s a good thing, a lucky thing. I’ll take it.