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    Sobriquet 60.9

    Monday, November 30, 2009
    I'm still reading a few pages of Coetzee each day, trying to keep myself moving forward without exerting too much energy on my introduction before meeting with my supervisor later this week. I reckon the intro will involve a bit more intense an effort than the previous bit of writing required of me, so, given that the semester is ending soon (and, accordingly, I am both tired and inundated with last-minute work), I figure this period of comparatively light is more a necessity than a luxury. This isn't to say that I have been slacking off over Thanksgiving break; I haven't. It's just that, in addition to the dissertation, I've had more than 700 pages of reading to do for my classes. So, though my progress has been slow, I am pleased with myself.

    For tomorrow: Read.

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    Tuesday, November 24, 2009
    I'm still in that interstitial rest mode that I fall into when, having finished one large chunk of dissertation writing, I need to recharge before beginning the next writing phase. During these refractory periods, I tend not to get as much work done, and I refuse to chastise myself for taking it easy. So, when I say that I have been reading a few pages of Foe each of the past few days, that's quite literally all of the dissertation work that I have done. Still, I continue to work on my project every day and will, I imagine, continue doing so until the day comes when I can say, honestly, I am finished.

    For today: Read.

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    Monday, November 23, 2009
    After a really nice weekend spent with friends and family, I find myself back in New York with a renewed sense of purpose. This happens every time I leave New York's Southern Tier, actually, though this recent, fortuitously-timed trip really helped me regain my bearings and I am looking forward to the time in the not-so-distant future when I am no longer tethered to a chronically overcast region of the Rust Belt. If that's not a motivating factor for finishing my doctorate, I don't know what is.

    For tomorrow: Read.

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    Sunday, November 22, 2009
    Long Valley, New Jersey
    Because I am typing this post with my thumbs on an iPod Touch, I am going to keep tonight's entry very short and just say that I have been re-reading (and re-enjoying) Foe over the past couple of days. I intend to continue doing so for a bit longer. After having spent so much time writing my afterword and preparing for classes and grading student papers over the last few weeks, I am enjoying a much-needed bit of downtime.

    For tomorrow: Read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Wednesday, November 18, 2009
    I finished the conclusion of my dissertation on Friday afternoon, which was a few days after I originally thought I would complete it. I sent it off to my supervisor and, though she made a few small suggestions for revision, it looks like I am essentially done with that section of the dissertation now, too. This means that, save for the sort of minor editing one does with any book-length manuscript, all I have left to do is write my introduction.

    This, however, is a bit more daunting a task than it may sound. Because it has to be fairly lengthy and because it requires that I summarize my ideas, but especially because I know it will be the first thing any potential reader encounters, I am feeling a bit more anxiety about its writing than I had anticipated. I mean, when I wrote my M.A. thesis back in 2003, the introduction was probably the easiest part of the entire project and, really, it did not take me an especially long time to put together. This introduction, on the other hand, feels different, weightier, more demanding. And, indeed, it is. When speaking with my advisor over the weekend, I was more than a little surprised to learn how long the average introduction tends to be. My initial response was, perhaps not surprisingly, mild dismay. "Damn," I thought, "I guess I won't be finishing it by the last day of the semester!" And all my dreams of celebratory December vacations to warmer climes dissipated.

    Of course, it's idiotic to feel anything but satisfaction at this point. I mean, I am remarkably close to the end of my dissertation, something that I could only imagine -- and imagine poorly -- two years ago. Still, it probably means that I will have to do a bit of re-reading over the next couple of weeks in preparation for that final bit of writing. I'll have to read over my dissertation, of course, but also Foe and In the Heart of the Country. I will have to reread some criticism, too. It feels like I have just finished the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour drive and, stifling yawns and straining to keep my eyes open, I see a construction zone ahead.

    So, I guess I will have to shift gears this one last time, regroup, and begin the homestretch.

    On a separate, though related note, I finally got around to watching the film adaptation of Disgrace. It's not a bad movie. The acting is pretty solid all the way through, the cinematography is beautiful, the plot largely true to the book. The problem with the adaptation is that the film essentially dismisses the reflective layer of Coetzee's novel. John Malkovich's David Lurie does all, or virtually all, the things Coetzee's Lurie does, but that's only the most superficial layer of the novel. David's internal life, the thoughts and feelings and reflections that animate and illuminate the book are, by necessity, largely absent from the film. There are, to be sure, moments where David's words or a particularly well-crafted scene gives a sense of the man's thoughts, but that crucial layer of the text is lost in translation.

    For tomorrow: Read.

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    Monday, November 9, 2009
    "I can't go on, I'll go on."
    -Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable

    Although I did manage to get a bit of writing done each day this weekend, I still have another day or so's worth of work left in front of me before I finish the draft of my Afterword. This, in itself, is not an especially big deal, but I have to admit I am somewhat less than satisfied with what I have written thus far, which makes it considerably more difficult for me to soldier on. But I have to. And I will.

    For tomorrow: Prep for the final bit of the Afterword.

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    Friday, November 6, 2009
    Although I really wanted to sit down and write a more substantial entry this evening, I seem to have grown rather yawny and a bit headachy. So, not wanting to exacerbate the unpleasantness, I'm not going to spend much time staring at this glowing rectangle as I might otherwise have done. Instead, I'll just report that, despite having guests this weekend and despite the grading and class preparation on which I have been working, I did get a bit more writing done this afternoon and remain on schedule for finishing the draft of my Afterword by Monday or so. I may also have settled on a title for my dissertation, which is kinda nice. There's a satisfying sense of finality in that, let me tell you.

    For tomorrow: Write more.

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    Wednesday, November 4, 2009
    Since my Tuesdays are excruciatingly long, I rarely have much time or energy to devote to my dissertation. Today was no exception, though I did manage to make a couple of tiny additions to the section of the Afterword on which I spent the past few days. Slowly, I am inching my way to the end.

    For tomorrow: Do some preparatory outlining at the very least and write, if at all possible.

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    Monday, November 2, 2009
    While it has been a solid fortnight since I posted anything to this blog, I have been working steadily on the Afterword the entire time. Right now, I am more than halfway done with the draft. It did take me a bit longer to work my way through the pile of materials I felt compelled to review prior to beginning than I had hoped to spend, but the actual writing of the chapter has gone comparatively quickly and I anticipate finishing the section within a week or so.

    For tomorrow: Write.

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