Writing is hard. That is just the plain and simple truth. Well I guess to be more explicit, writing well is hard.
These past few weeks I have hit a crossroads in my doctoral work. I struggle with time, time to reflect, to work, to breathe, to have family time, to be a wife, a mom, a student, and the teacher my students deserve. I don’t know if I am going to pull this semester off if you want to know the truth. For the first time in my all or nothing writing style, I have come to the scary conclusion that I might not make my deadline.
I don’t know how to fit in more time to write. I have scheduled every inch of my life down to the minute, and I mean literally. I have my groceries delivered to the house, an indulgence I gave myself when I figured out I could squeeze another hour into my schedule if I shopped with a few clicks of a mouse instead of wandering through our local Sprouts health food store. My kids don’t live at home, and my husband only sees me at night, usually with my face in my computer screen. I was making it work, and then inevitably, like always my body reminded me once again I need to sleep, and I caught the wicked cold going around this fall. So I made my annual trip to urgent care, got meds and an admonishment to rest or else. I would like to say this is an unusual event, but in looking back on my Memories on Facebook link, I am usually sick every year around this time. Not a good track record frankly.
But back to my writing problems. This space is blank because I don’t have time to post anymore. I am too busy trying to write for work, and write for my homework, and of course, that elusive doctoral paper that just looms over my head like a large raincloud, waiting to dump all over me. I began this journey with so much hope and promise, and now I wonder daily if I made the right decision. Why am I doing this? What could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been said already? What if all this work turns out to be nothing, another report on a shelf, a biblio number someone pulls up on their screen when researching for their topics, all for what? What can I add to the already crowded landscape of research out there, and will anyone ever read it? Sitting at the doctoral table, I wonder like many of my own students if I belong here. As you can tell, I have been living in a fearful place lately, so the words are not coming to the page easily.
But like always, because I am blessed to surround myself with amazing people, I write on because I have a support system that believes together we can do this. I have a family that pours me more coffee (making sure some of it is decaf), shuts down my negative talk, and drags me to the gym a few times a week to make sure I keep my sanity. I work at a site where everyone, and I mean everyone, is a researcher of some sort, and the level of professionalism and dedication makes a better person just for being there.
And then there is that nagging voice inside, that doesn’t go away no matter how frustrated I get, that keeps telling this story in my head
It isn’t my story really, it is the story of the students I have worked with over the past thirty years. The faces of those I have taught well, and those that I wish I could bring back into my classroom and teach again, because I know so much more now. Its the stories of my students tell me through their writing, the real writing that means something to them years later when they come and see me. It is the desire to tell the world that all students deserve a positive space to learn, to be heard and taught how to powerfully speak and write at the larger academic table, and not shut down or categorized to a more convenient track due to language or circumstance. It is trying to fit all this passion into format I struggle to master, transferring passion to academia, to make my work more than the numbers and citations, but to give validity and recognition to the strength and power of my students that so many see with a deficit lens. It is the struggle to tell a compelling story, one that will shine light on the challenges we face while letting the light of the brilliance of these students shine through. I guess I answered my own question, yes I have something to say, now I just need to continue to hone the right words to say it.