I have volumes and volumes to write—as though I have so much to say that I should easily be able to pound out monograph after monograph. Unfortunately, it simply isn’t that easy. It’s one thing to have thoughts and to be able to articulate them here and there, now and then, in the midst of conversation. It’s another, somehow, to be able to turn these into writing—into writing of sufficient quality and coherence to be worthy of publication and, after that, to be read widely.
It’s hard to tell just where the disconnect is, but I suspect that rather a lot of it has to do with habits of thought. It is hard for me to think when I write, precisely because typing is slow and involves a faculty other than the voice and speech. So when I write, thoughts don’t come clearly; arguments don’t congeal as they seem to do when I speak. Or maybe I just don’t notice the degree to which they don’t hang together when I speak because I’m concentrating on speaking. I don’t know.
In any case, the net effect of all of this is that I have a great deal of what might be called “academic frustration” for motivation, and a lot of sources and perspectives and methods and facts rattling around in this skull of mine, and I can converse about them with other people without sounding too damn idiotic, but when I think about writing something substantive, I draw a giant blank. What should be my thesis, how should I structure my argument, etc. When I actually start to write, the problem gets worse—a page in, I meander. Two pages in, I am hopelessly lost.
Obviously some part of the process simply does not translate, which is both unexpected and regrettable since I am a six-time author. Obviously I haven’t yet learned to translate social thought into readable writing. It is of particular interest and chagrin to me that a great many great thinkers are considered to have been (or to be) “prolific.”
I like the word. Often I feel as thought it ought to be me and I can’t for the life of me figure out why this isn’t so, what obstacle is lying somewhere hidden in my approach to the material that prevents me from putting what are under other circumstances innumerable words and thoughts on a variety of social issues into written (or at the very least) typed words of the same kind.
How many books are rattling around in my head…
…that will never be written?
At the same time and on another note, I would do well to acknowledge that some of the difficulty on these fronts results from the day-to-day realities of the life that I lead; there are bills to be paid and CVs to be made that each in their own right demand that I work, work, work. There is also the fact that I am working toward a Ph.D. (a pursuit that I only doubt once a week or so, due to the potential mismatch between this end and my “personal” goals in life) that requires yet more work, work, work.
All things said and done, there is precious little time to sit down and write, and spending time this way would be a difficult expenditure to justify at this juncture in my life. It takes time to type. This entry has taken perhaps five minutes and it isn’t a single page.
(Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that the greatest amount of time spent in academic writing is not spent on mere typing or the production of streams-of-concsiousness.)
I don’t know. I would very much like to write more, particularly about social theory and topics in the social sciences. It is unclear, however, just how I should go about realizing such a goal. I sometimes think that I should muster the discipline to simply sit down and type every musing thought that I have about any topic under the sun until I arrive at another 600- or 800-page monograph.
This isn’t likely to happen, I think, and it’s not clear that anyone would publish it if it did.
For the sake of trivia, I’ll mention that when I was in southern California in 2005, I printed the entirety of my web diary, from beginning to end, all years… and it was approximately 1,000 pages.