I have to figure out a way to structure my days. I find myself so lonely and alienated some days, and pulling my hair out at the very thought of my dissertation. It must be broken down into smaller chunks, and it must get some attention! I end up doing everything but my writing, and that's because truly, I don't want to write. The days I try, I end up in a black hole of depression, reliving a lot of icky memories from my days of doing fieldwork. It seems to take hours, days, and potentially a lot of rabbits to climb back out. So where does that leave me?

One huge problem is my lack of commitment to the academic path as a career. The crapulent job market for humanities Ph.D's doesn't help one bit in trying to come up with the gargantuan effort required to write a dissertation. When I started this program, I very much wanted to be an academic, and I was so into it. And now, well, part of me just doesn't see it. I may just be burnt, and maybe in time I'll get turned back on to it. And I could just be lazy. I am kinda close to having a doctorate, and I might could actually have a nice career with it, so what is my glitch?

Another issue is feeling so drawn to having a life as a farmer and crafter. That's the life that feels right (or at least the idea of it) and I keep coming back to it. But then, I keep returning to academia too! I also need to make a living, and currently my lifestyle feels a bit off the grid, and not in a good way. I need to get out and be part of the world. I'm not sure a home-based business will suit me longterm. I've thought about working on all this and maybe just teaching here and there at a community college, if they'll have me, but that probably still entails finishing my diss at some point.

Since my current ethnographic approach is causing me distress, I've tried to brainstorm about some other ideas that will get words on paper without me having to relive everything or be so engaged. I've thought about switching to a more historically-based method, kind of ethno-history. A nice thing about this is that I could more easily encompass photos, film and other visual texts. It could start to feel like a collage, and selecting and arranging these artefacts could be very creative. Then later, I could get down my own experiences, once I have some more distance and am in a better routine. That's my provisional plan, I think.

I also need to remember that it's quite luxurious to be able to write full-time; it's a new situation for me, and it won't last forever. I have a lot of guilt at complaining about this lifestyle, since it seems that I have it easy. My difficulty with this glorious freedom is that I work best under pressure, and have done years of deadline-driven fenzied writing. That's got to work against me with a long project such as this. I cannot spend years dithering and guilting myself over not-writing only to slam out a diss in a few months. It actually wouldn't be so bad if I could enjoy those years, but then there's my advisors expecting me to produce something periodically.

What could work for a daily schedule? I'm thinking that this time, it might be best to work with my nocturnal rhythms rather than trying to fight them, because that's when my brain is working. I think six hours a day is quite a lot, more than enough, and maybe even realistic. Here's a proposal, which I may monkey with later:

noon get up, make coffee, check on critters
12:30 check emails, flickr, etc.
1pm begin writing
3pm shower, eat, clean house, hang with rabbits and dogs
5pm run errands or walk or garden, maybe start dinner
7pm dinner
8pm back to writing artsy projects!
midnight reward: spin, read, relax
3am bedtime yoga
4am sleep

This sounds potentially doable except that the writing part makes me nauseous.

OR, I could work it in a completely different direction. Commit to working on the diss 2-3 hours a day. That would surely mean progress, sooner or later. And spending the rest of the time working on farm and art projects. That sounds so much more appealing.

Aha! I just checked and the diss bible says most people can't write for more than two hours a day anyway! He recommends going by page number goals - three to six per day - rather than hours, although he says if you're freewriting for two hours, that's about what you'll get. So conceivably, I could just use that 1pm-3pm block of time to write, and then be done with the damn thing for the day. I'd have that whole 8-12pm block to do anything and everything else. That sounds pretty reasonable, even for someone so unwilling. I haven't read this book in ages, but there also look to be some strategies for coping with ambivalence and block, and I'll have to take in all that tomorrow.

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