I have fallen into the BLACK HOLE of READING when working on my dissertation. It began innocently enough when I realized I didn’t know enough about Elizabeth Gaskell scholarship to competently continue with my current 11 page chapter draft. I didn’t want to keep writing without being able to situate my argument and analysis within current scholarship, so I started to research and then read. And read. And read. And read some more. Usually, my GUILT would kick in and force me to stop reading and start WRITING, but I was able to assuage said guilt by insisting that I was making progress on my dissertation through the readings. But I’m not, and I’ve come to accept that. Unlike almost all my other author-subjects, Elizabeth Gaskell has been written about. Extensively. She is arguably the most canonical of my author-subjects, and I need to accept that my typical approach of reading all the available scholarship is not going to work here. I also need to accept that I can WRITE without having READ everything. That really, the reading may prove more useful AFTER I’ve written. So I need to climb out of this black hole and actually start making visible progress on my dissertation chapter–I need to WRITE.
But before I can do so, I need to climb over the WALL that is my WRITER’s BLOCK. Where do I start? There are many options, even more so after a working group meeting on my topic. If anything, the new ideas are too numerous, and really, I’m questioning my original vision for this chapter on Elizabeth Gaskell. I’m not sure if I should split my focus between “Curious, If True” and “The Grey Woman” as I originally intended, or if I should just briefly discuss “The Grey Woman” and focus more on “Curious, If True.” More scholarship has been written on “The Grey Woman” that would coincide with my own interpretation, while there is more room for innovative scholarship with “Curious, If True.” I think I’ve just talked myself into using scholarship on “The Grey Woman” as an introduction to my own analysis of “Curious, If True.” 🙂 But I still need to get over that wall that is keeping me from just writing. Plan A: Coffee. Plan B: Wine. If caffeine can’t get me past the wall, wine should get me out of my own head and doubts enough to at least start writing something. I’ve found in the past that I can write tipsy as long as I revise sober. So this weekend is all about CLIMBING–out of the black hole of reading and over the wall of writer’s block.