April 9, 2013
I passed my dissertation defense yesterday.
Everyone keeps asking me how it feels to be done. I have a hard time answering, because I don’t feel done.
I realized on the way home why that is: this is the beginning, not the end.
It’s the end of school, of course.
But it’s not the end of doing everything I always did in school–reading, learning, writing, discussing, thinking. It’s the beginning of my doing that professionally, for pay, and with the goal of making the world a little better, somehow, by the fruits of that study. But it’s not the end of my education.
I haven’t finished the dissertation. I’ve finished my first book. But first implies a second, and, one hopes, several more than that.
It has been momentous for me in the sense that I finally feel that I can write a scholarly work (because four men who’ve written some very wonderful scholarly works just told me I did). “I can write a book.” That’s what I said out loud to myself when I got back to my car and closed the doors and had my first moment to myself. I can write a book. That’s what I’ve done. And since I’ve done it, that means I can do it.
Yes, friends. It’s taken me twenty-nine years of schooling to be able to come up with such tautologies: If I can write a book, that means I can write a book.
It seems a not-insignificant thought, however.
And it’s making me want to go to that folder on my desktop titled, “Possible future projects.” I’ve written the outlines and basic ideas for at least ten books and several dozen research possibilities. And now I can do them.
That’s kind of, you know, . . . exciting.