Starting the new before finishing the old

In some ways I am using this blog as a place-holder.  I am not finished writing my dissertation yet.  Until I finish with that, I cannot fully commit to writing a novel.  I really want to start writing a novel RIGHT NOW, but that would just be pushing off the dissertation, which is so close to being finished.  In some ways, I am afraid that I am using this re-discovered passion I have for writing a fiction manuscript as a way of avoiding my dissertation.  Once I finish with this degree, what comes next?  I want to be able to move on SO BADLY, but at the same time, the last 10 years of my life have been about this Ph.D.  Part of me is scared to face whatever comes next.  A full-time job?  I have not had a full-time job in over 10 years.  Yeah, the whole grad school/teaching thing can be construed as a full-time job, but it is not the same as leaving for the office at 7:00 a.m. and not getting home until 5:00 p.m. or later.  I WANT a job.  I have been living off a pittance in stipend and financial aid.   I want to make my own money.  Nevertheless,… it will be a HUGE life change.  A paradigm shift, even.  I will no longer be a student.  How will I know how to be?  And what will I do without that ever-present guilt over not working on my research?  Will it really go away?  (*crosses fingers*)  Or will it just shift to something else?

I know all these feeling and thoughts are fairly normal.  Things would have been better had I been forced into a shorter deadline so I could defend in May, but things got screwed up and now I will not defend until September at the earliest.  I hate this, because it makes it seem like I have tons of time to worry about finishing.  But the plan was to move on in June.  To find a job, move on to the next stage of my life.  I have to do that regardless of not REALLY being finished with grad school until December.  Next year I will be Dr. Me.  Until then, I have to move on without that validation.

So, next week has to be about finishing the dissertation.  I am going to have to move back to the mentality that I have to work from the time I get up until I am exhausted.  I have to devote myself to at least 12 “tomatoes,” but it should really be more like 16 “tomatoes.”  More if I can stand it.  If I can finish the draft this coming week, last chapter AND revisions, then the following week, I can be done…for the moment.  I can start my novel.  I can look for a job.  This coming week, instead of spending hours dreaming about writing my novel, I will allow myself one blog post a day.  The rest of my time has to be about finishing one milestone before I try moving on to another.

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