Maybe it’s not really applicable since I don’t have any looming deadlines, but it feels like I’ve been procrastinating some these past couple of weeks, even though ultimately what I’ve been doing will contribute to my work (I hope).
Attending a NASCAR race as a sort of participatory journalist.
Spending a couple of hours documenting a graveyard near my house.
Reading a book of 50 years worth of stories about animals by a World War II vet.
Replaying Kentucky Route Zero.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best lessons I’ve learned from grad school is to constantly be thinking about how to use the things you do for fun, or to relax, as part of my work/writing. This has already paid off – I picked up a copy of Homage to Catalonia a couple of months ago because I’ve always wanted to read more Orwell, and that slowly led to writing a review of the book, which will be published soon! Kind of exciting.
My thesis has been approved by my advisor and the university’s Institutional Review Board, which is the impetus for actually having some free time. With the frequent discussions about theses among my cohort, I’m curious to see how much it will help me, assuming I never go into a PhD program. In our RhetComp program, you have the option of instead creating a portfolio, taking a timed (72 hour) exam, and an extra class in the place of a thesis. This seems more practical – pieces in a portfolio are way more likely to get published than a 60-80 page thesis. Best case scenario from a thesis, you’ll have 2-3 articles published. Sure, books happen, but not often. I guess the reason I’m going with a thesis is that it seems like it will look better as I apply for teaching jobs. Who knows if that’s true. Maybe I’ll be regretting the decision soon.
I’ve also been using some of the “free” time to start in on some good old fashioned worrying about my career post-graduation. I knew going back to school that my paycheck would be a long way away from getting back to what it was in my IT career pre-college degree, so I’m not filled with despair about the job market. I fully expect to work 2-3 part-time jobs doing some teaching, some freelance writing/editing/grantwriting, and who knows what else. I’m also looking into more unorthodox choices, like the possibility of doing a residence at a high school in New Hampshire. Which would be an awesome experience, assuming I have a shot at getting in.
The good news is that people of my program and other similar programs that I’ve been in touch with have not had a hard time finding employment, it seems, even if that employment is not quite what they were hoping for. Beyond a paycheck, moving forward and continuing to keep a good work ethic regardless of your employment situation seems to be extraordinarily important for my writing.
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