Sobriquet 39.6

I sent off a copy of the recently completed Age of Iron draft to my supervisor today. Although it may not sound like a particularly significant moment, the sending away of my draft strikes me as at least as major a point in my dissertation writing as the afternoon in early January when I typed those first tenuous sentences to start the whole process. The laying bare of one's thoughts--particularly those that will be evaluated and judged against the high standards set by the Academy--is not an easy thing to do. In many ways I feel naked (now that the word "naked" has appeared in the blog, I wonder what peculiar search terms will lead folks here?). I feel vulnerable, as if I am sitting atop the cold, tissue-papered surface of a doctor's examining table, awaiting the results of an important test--and, not surprisingly, I want this anxiety to subside. I want an answer, a definitive diagnosis: either cut open and operate or you're fine, Erik. So, that's where I am now.

What I am currently coping with is the fear that what I have done will not be good enough, that I will need to make sweeping revisions. I realize that, even if this is the case, I would be further along than I was a month ago, but I really, really want what I have written to be deemed "okay." I mean, if I have some acknowledgment that what I've done is of the quality it needs to be, I can say to myself, well, you've shown you can do it. Keep it up. That would provide a wonderful boost to my confidence, clearly. But, still, I don't like the feeling of sitting on the doctor's table in a polka-dotted gown.

I did read another extremely short essay on Coetzee today, just to maintain the sense of progress I have been cultivating. The article I read, Michiko Kakutani's rather clumsily titled "Chronicling Life Perched on a Volcano's Edge as Change Erupts," written a day after Coetzee won the Nobel Prize, strengthens my assumption that the ubiquitous blurb meister and I, despite our common appreciation of quite a few writers, would disagree about the direction of Coetzee's fiction since the 1980s. Whereas she seems to feel Waiting for the Barbarians and Life and Times of Michael K are significantly better than the author's "ill-conceived" The Master of Petersburg or the "melodramatic" Disgrace, I prefer the later fiction. While I do not think either Waiting or K are anything short of extraordinary, I do feel that Coetzee's recent output achieves a certain sublimity not fully realized in those earlier works. Still, she has an amazing ability to synthesize a tremendous range of literary knowledge and is, quite frankly, one of the better writers out there in critic-land, so despite the fact that I disagree with a bit of her assessment, I do find it illuminating.

At any rate, I am going to call it a night.

For tomorrow: Since I have a few errands I want to take care of (and the time-devouring grading of student writing), I will assign myself only the lightest of workloads: get some transcription done.


minxy said…
Dude, I can totally picture you at the doctor's office right now. Teehee. Sorry...couldn't help it for a minute. Anyhoodle, your writing is going to be deemed good enough and you'll only need to make very minor revisions. I know this because I rock. :)
minxy said…
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