Friday, March 8, 2013

On writer's block, question marks, and life or death situations

I've been having wicked bad writer's block, you guys.

Like, wicked bad.

And it's not even like writing a master's thesis is that big of a deal anyway. I mean thousands of people do it every year, right? And then for each thesis written, there are literally three, maybe four readers. And that's if you submit it for publication, or something. 

What I'm trying to say is, this is just an exercise—a culminating activity that is supposed to show advisors and me that all this reading and studying I've done can be bundled up and made into a real, live, physical, thing. (Or at least a virtual, blinking, digital thing.)

This is not what my thesis will look like. My thesis will look like the Internet. Or invisible.

But I can't do it. Well, I started it. But I can't finish it. Because in the middle of my soul, there's a great big question mark that's always asking the world the same thing: am I good or bad? Am I valuable? Or do I owe the world an apology for being here and taking up space? Am I smart? Or do people just tell me that because I'm not that pretty? (You know how people do that?) Can I do this thing? Or will this be another disappointing failure in this life I don't really deserve to be living anyway?

Because of this question mark, everything I attempt becomes a quest for my own personal holy grail. Instead of being a question of whether I can write 50-70 coherent pages (probably), it becomes a question of whether I'm worth anything as a person. This thesis is just one of the commonplace situations that I've managed to turn into a life or death problem. My thesis advisor told me this tendency is unacceptable. It certainly is inconvenient. At first I thought this is narcissism on my part, but my therapist assured me it's just low self-esteem.

I need some good vibes. I need to believe that the I can complete an activity successfully. I need to punch my dickish superego in the nuts. 

I need to answer the question mark.


shaunita said...

Here's my two cents: write your thesis for YOU. Not to prove you're awesome (that doesn't need proving), but because you are interested in the topic (or were before you had the joy beat out of you in the middle of your research) and you feel it has inherent value and DESERVES to be explored. You have a greatness within you that doesn't need to be proven, just remembered. We all do.

ixoj said...

I know exactly what you mean. I wish I had some thoughtful advice to help motivate you, but since I generally feel the same way (still) I've got nothin. Perhaps knowing that you're not alone in your feelings of inadequacy will help. :)

(blog-stalking confession: I came across your blog from one of your facebook links. I hope you don't mind).

Gretta Whalen said...

@ixoj I love lurkers! I love lurkers who comment even more!

Knowing I'm not alone in my feelings of inadequacy *does* help. Thank you.