It is important to be aware of how your work could be interpreted by people who aren’t, say, the six professors you are working with on your comprehensive / qualifying exams and your dissertation, but it is also good to remember that this dissertation is one piece of what will be the larger puzzle of your career and / or academic life. Try not to get hung up on the minutia (missing the forest for the trees), but don’t get overwhelmed by the forest if all you need to focus on is one tree at a time to make progress. Life, as ever, remains a balancing act.
In the words of one of those wise Canadian Studies professors, “If you career goes well, this [MA thesis or research paper] will wind up being the worst thing you’ve ever written.” This axiom may seem trite and dismissive, but I find it inspirational and forward-looking. It’s easy to give up, become overwhelmed, despair of ever completing your paper / dissertation / thesis / homework, but it may be more helpful to consider each step along the way toward your diploma, degree, or whatever your goal as part of a much larger project of learning and improving.
In line with this reasonable-sounding project, I’m going to deliver two new papers at a conference in Texas this week. I’ll keep you updated on the antics that ensue.