Monday, June 16, 2014

University Museums Group Conference

This one isn't really about writing.

A few weeks ago I got the sort of email in my inbox that typically makes me want to go 'crap' and hide in a corner until the anxiety attack wears off. However, as the email was from my supervisor, I instead wrote back and said 'yes' and then went 'crap' and hid in a corner. Priorities, I have them.

I spent a lot of the last couple of weeks going out of my way to stave off the brewing anxiety. I don't do presentations. I absolutely loath it. I am, borderline, phobic about public speaking. It just is not my thing. And that's okay, because rarely am I required to stand up at the front of a room and present. I can do meetings. I can chair meetings. I can talk in a group. I cannot stand in front of a conference and present. We all have our failings.

But when your supervisor emails you to say he's putting together a panel and are you available, you say yes. And then you freak out.

I could have done a very simple 'this is my research' presentation, but the supervisor already had a theme in mind and so I sort of ran with that and…kept on running. These things happen.

Anyways, I ended up delivering a rather provocative presentation (thankfully, not directed at any of the museums in attendance) that pretty much said 'you are all doing it wrong, do better'. And then people agreed with me. And started following me on Twitter and retweeting quotes from my presentation. And sending me emails to say they've been discussing it in the office today.

These sorts of things typically give me anxiety attacks. Thankfully, I have two deadlines next week so I don't have time to have an anxiety attack (or more than one). Which is excellent timing, all around.

I do know that my supervisor is very happy. And that my fellow panelists (who I trust) told me it was really good. And I did not have a fidget attack sitting at the front waiting for 30 minutes to speak. Baby steps. Baby steps. I may be getting the hang of this whole presenting thing, even if thinking about having to do one will probably give me an anxiety attack for a long time to come.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The 'Starting Writing Writer's Block'

We've all suffered through it. You know you need to write something. You know what you need to write (well, mostly), but you can't seem to write it.

I have re-written my thesis outline three times in as many days. For future reference, doing so does not making writing the thesis easier. But it was worth a try.

I have been trying to take a new stance on life. When I cannot write, I will not stress about it. When I desperately need to write and nothing happens, I will not have an anxiety attack and lose sleep. Mostly, this is working relatively well. The unfortunate thing is that, no matter how I feel psychologically, the deadline is still getting closer.

I have two deadlines this month. They are both the same day. Neither is flexible. I am entirely certain the work for one of them will get done by then. That one, alas, is not my thesis. The thesis, despite my new stance on life, is worrying me.

My issue is simple (it's not). In my glory of being original, I got a little carried away. My thesis hinges on two disparate theories from two (almost opposing) disciplines, neither of which have ever been used for the discipline I work in. Possibly I went a little overboard (though my supervisor thinks otherwise). One theory informs my data collection, the other my data analysis. The first is not the problem. The second is supposed to be helping me structure the second half of the thesis, but instead it seems to be making it harder. However, at this stage, letting it go isn't really an option (not without rethinking my conclusions, redoing my analysis, and reworking the first half of the (already written) thesis). And I have a deadline I have to meet. In other words, I need to make it work.

It would be easier if certain people answered their emails, of course.

So now I am reduced to eating cooking chocolate, because it's the only thing in the house, drinking more tea than I need to on a reasonably warm day, and trying to rewrite the outline for a fourth time. All the while knowing that I have to do my other work this afternoon, or that deadline will become problematic too. And I might as well achieve one of them.