back in action

31Aug08

I’m back. Back to work and back to blogging (for the time being, at least). Those of you who were following before I went missing know how much I struggled in late June and early July with motivation. It got to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish my research trip here. My friends and colleagues suggested a variety of things. Those who didn’t know my advisor suggested I meet with her; those who do said I should wait until I was more mentally together or until I had something dissertation-related to show her.

I’ve not yet met with my advisor.

What I did do was take approximately six weeks off. It was a risky move because research time doesn’t come cheap and I’ll have to make up ground for the past three months at some point. But it was probably the right thing. Leaving London would have just been running away from the problem and I really had nowhere to go in the US. At the same time, I had to acknowledge how mentally exhausted I was and I knew that pushing on would be counterproductive.

Last week I “began” working again. I say “began” in quotes because I still haven’t gone to the archives. Last Monday was a Bank Holiday and I had to pack, move, and unpack on Wednesday. Too much disruption. I agreed to write a book review last spring that’s due in mid-September so I started working on that last week.

My advisor said to spend only one week working on a book review, from start to finish. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve always struggled to read secondary literature efficiently, which is probably the most important tool of the historian’s trade. But with a book review, where I need to read fairly closely, I’m plodding along. So after four reading sessions I’m only at page 130 out of over 300. It’s not going well.

Tomorrow I’ll continue working on it but then Tuesday I begin archival research in earnest. I have about three months to salvage this trip. Should be interesting.

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