Sobriquet 38.9

Well, I'm there. The notes have been typed up, the quotations have been reviewed, and the "extra-curricular" essay I'd been wrestling with has been accepted for publication. The essay--an obituary for the late Norman Mailer--will appear in the next issue of Logos, and I will provide a link to the URL when it becomes available.

So, by "there," I mean I'm here, on the nerve-wracking threshold of the writing process I have been putting off for more months that I would care to admit. I am nervous, understandably, but I think I am about as well-prepared as one could hope to be, having read practically everything written about Age of Iron. Today, in addition to the pre-writing I have been addressing, I received the last essay I had requested via interlibrary loan so many weeks ago and reviewed it along with a few pages in Laura Wright's excellent study of Coetzee's fiction. So, despite the nerves, I got work done (though I did have to knit a bit more of my scarf while watching Seinfeld to settle those very nerves at one point not too long ago...)

Saikat Majumdar's essay, "The Alien Insider" examines several of Coetzee's novels and displays a tremendous familiarity with the author's work, but did not add much to my particular area of research while Wright's book remains one of the best-written, most insightful works yet published on Coetzee.

In any case, I would be lying if I did not admit to being nervous as I near the writing process, even for what amounts to a fairly insignificant section of the dissertation. Still, like anyone preparing to take the first step on a long journey, I sense the almost symbolic import of the first step. It marks the moment when I say yes I can to the challenge before me. It's like throwing down a gauntlet; you want to be certain that you're ready to do so...

Still, Minxy and the Literary Chica are right: Just start.

So I will.

On a happy note, I got a wonderful email from one of my former students today. Here's one of the most beautiful things any teacher can ever hear:

"[Y]ou made a hit here. [Our professor] asked us what we liked and what we hated about the course. Everyone who had you as a teacher said you. I thought that would brighten your day. A lot of students found a piece of mind with you, and thought you were an awesome teacher."

Again, this is why I am writing the dissertation, more than anything else. To have the opportunity to work with such bright young people is, by far, the greatest motivation I can find. How serendipitous to have gotten such a nice letter here at base camp, on the eve of my ascent.

For tomorrow: Put on the crampons and make my way to the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Works Cited

Majumdar, Saikat. "The Alien Insider." Atenea 23.1 (2003): 21-34.

Wright, Laura. Writing Out of All the Camps: J. M. Coetzee's Narratives of Displacement. New York: Routledge, 2006.


minxy said…
HA! I knew I was right all along!!! Sorry...that was rather selfish of me. But still...HA! Once you get the first sentence or two written, you'll be on a roll, I know it. :)
From Laura Wright:

I just wanted to say thanks for the kind words about my work on J.M. Coetzee; a friend forwarded me your link, and it made my day.

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