I just spent the past few days editing a dissertation for a student who more than likely plagiarized from Chinese journals and then piece by piece used Google Translate to create a paper that, over the span of 150 pages, does little to prove that wage incentives result in increased productivity. Each time I am given an opportunity to re-enter Academia out here, I always get it in my head that this is finally going to be my opportunity to step in and be the hero. I’m going to rescue them from years of bad policy and bad teachers, and in doing so elevate my wife to a salary and status I feel she deserves. After all, she is one of the few to get her degrees not through academic dishonesty, but through being an actual ESL who has been around the world and understands what is going on. By me doing a stellar job, they will see what a power couple we are and they will want to make her the undisputed department head, the youngest in the school’s history, and bit by bit we will put a little integrity back into the education system.
It’s OK to dream, right?
But aside from re-introducing a little bit of purpose back into my life, I think I was finally able to smash through the wall I had hit with the book I continue to try and write. After receiving a long set of notes from an editor, I was both encouraged and daunted by the things she had to say. When she posited that my message was significant, maybe even important, I couldn’t help but feel proud and terrified all at the same time. To think that my words would actually have the effect that I’ve wanted them to have for years was a thought that was almost too much for me to take. High off the initial elation of praise, I zoomed through the edits of the first section with little to no effort, only to unceremoniously grind to a halt two weeks later. I don’t even think it was because I ran out of things to say. I think it was because the reality of actually finishing something dawned on me and it sufficiently scared me. In spite of the fact that I have wanted to be a writer for, oh I don’t know, my entire friggin life, in recent days I often find myself wondering if I can actually be one.
Barring the recent phenomenon of a rather polarized society, I don’t find myself wondering if I am good enough. Yes, I do doubt my talents and abilities from time to time, but honestly I doubt more the ability of those around me to comprehend what I am trying to say. I am one of those people who everyone has categorized, but so few have ever accurately done so. From assumptions of being “Goth” for wearing black clothing (which I did to hide how much I sweat), to presumptions of a liberal political stance due to the fact that I am so loose on hot-button issues, I feel like publishing a book is going to permanently categorize me as a guy who either has some kind of agenda or forces me into the shadow of somebody who has done something similar. While I don’t believe either result can potentially ruin my life or stifle a career, I do worry that whatever label is put on me is going to force me into a role, something I feel like I’ve always had to endure.
Still, personal dilemmas aside, I won’t know until I do it, so I might as well finish the damn thing and see what happens. Hell, the bulk of the work is behind me. I’m talking about 90% or more at this stage. Why swim back to the other familiar pier when the unknown pier is so much closer? Sure, it’s unknown, but when has that ever stopped me before?
Regardless, I feel a bit of strength and energy returning, so I have to use these bursts of inspiration to cover as much ground as possible. I’m not sure how sporadic work is going to be (or if this was a one-shot deal), so there’s no point in spending my days watching television and waiting for another opportunity to fall in my lap. While there is still time and while I still have some of this inheritance in the bank, I have to keep chasing this dream in spite of how unlikely it all seems in my mind.
So, having successfully completed my morning ritual of vitamins, hydration, and caffeination, and also having smashed out an early afternoon writing exercise, I think I’m going to head downstairs for some hot yoga and cardio. A midday flush will be the perfect chance to let the brain fire up again and allow me to begin thinking about what I would like to say before getting back to work later today. This will be the day I continue moving forward. Nevermind how long the momentum lasts, what’s important is that I keep finding ways to get ahead of writer’s block and continue striving for a goal I deserve to have and realize.