It’s the first full day of my planned almost-week off from work. I’m supposed to be looking at my dissertation draft, or, rather, the collection of writing I have done to assemble this monolithic paper. I’ve been procrastinating for two hours.

The time has come for me to recommit and make it stick, or do the honest soul searching to decide if yes, I do really want to finish this and be awarded a doctorate degree.

Come to think of it, I do not know that I ever really had that private, inner discussion with myself. I think I just took for granted that I do. Why else would I have started this journey in the first place?

When I set out to get a PhD in the Humanities, I was sure that I wanted to finish. At the time, I saw it as a new challenge and a goal that I could achieve though the generosity of a (then) employer that paid tuition for degree programs. This was my Plan B, or my future optional career path of teaching at the college level. A PhD is a must-have, and I saw it as a great way to transition, when I was ready to move on to the next career phase.

It is now several years later. I successfully completed all the required coursework, exams, and topic proposal, and have been treading water in the dissertation phase for far too long. I no longer feel that a professor’s path is calling me. But I do know that I cannot abandon this work until I have finished it.

Life pulls at us.

Life pulls at us. It makes its demands of work, family responsibilities, the human needs of rest and relaxation. For me, there is also the intense lure of the creative. The need to explore my interests, my arts, my thirst for experiences. I’ll abandon my research chores in a heartbeat if I even glimpse at the first chapter of a new book that I can’t put down.

I used to be far more disciplined when I had a goal. Now, I find that giving in to the lures of personal pursuits and human limitations are much more important than goals. We get one go-round here.

So for the next six days, anyway, I will settle in and demand of myself the discipline to do the work. I’ve been round and round trying to find my comfort zone, but this topic is not one that fosters “comfort.” I mean, writing about the way people write about their grief… I can see how you might think that’s a bit of a downer.

Then again, if I thought that my dissertation did not have the potential to inspire, empower, perhaps even help others to interpret their loss in a powerful way, I would not push myself to stick with it. The paper is called:
Toward a Theory of Internet Memoir: A Content Analysis of Expressions of Grief in Social Media. I’m seeing evidence every day. There is so much to understand here. Maybe I can help.

So I’m back at it. This time it’s personal. Keep an eye on me here, will you?