British summer failure, holidays and writing

For anyone’s interest, I have been on holiday. Mind you, it was a research trip to Barcelona, but it is really not my fault that it was sunny and hot and I ate plenty of cold meats and salads and got paraded around by my whole family (which is typical) like I am the Pope on the Pope-mobile. This is what normally happens anyway. This time at least I there to do specific research and I managed to escape some family plans on the back of having to do some study.

The research trip in itself was great. The sole purpose was to have a close look to a bunch of novels from the 1930s that obviously have not been reedited or retranslated and that are held at the main library of the Catalan world. This is pretty cool. I managed to get a hold of three of these novels (for current work purposes) and had a feeling of what the rest are about to help in the research I have to do and write in the next couple of months.

Coming back, however, I do have a bit of a feeling of detachment from what I was doing before going. What was I doing again? I have some fresh ideas that come from the time spent away, but I have almost no recollection about what my mind was stuck on before I went. I have been struggling in the past week to reconnect with my mind then, but that is not my main issue.

The Scottish/British summer has finally hit us, and the weather is completely miserable outside. For some reason I can’t explain, I have found it almost impossible to do any work in the mornings before going to work. I have chipped in at work, but I have not been at my office space for at least a month now. And it gets worse when I am not even willing to open the actual documents I am meant to be writing. I suppose it is because they are blank, as in, totally. Totally, emphatically blank. It’s not like I have a good idea to lead on with and then play around with – I have a tank of half-baked ideas that I have ‘artistically’ arranged in some random order and titles, but from there to actually writing a chapter or something similar… well, there is a fair trek.

This is especially demoralising because it is summer. Summer is the easier part of the year in my calendar. There are no basketball games in the middle, the courses aren’t running so emails are lower at this time of the year, there is more light in general, which means I sleep less and I work more, and it is the time when I need to catch up with things before the beginning of the year – in a way leaping to catch up with everyone who is on holiday or doing less so that in the overall of the year it seems as if I am working more. I am not demoralised (just yet), but I could certainly do with stepping up my game and seemingly my mind and body are really not following suit. This leads me towards writing paralysis and a bit of Valley of Shit I seem to be traversing at the moment.

I spoke to PhD in AVT at lunchtime and it seems we are all going through the similar stuff at this time of the year. Perhaps because the weather has been so terrible, or because there has been very little work done when the expectations were pretty optimistic, we all seem to be having an emotional rollercoaster sort of period. We are both in desperate need of the Thesis Whisperer’s MOOC, and a little bit of academic self-love. In our conversation today we sort of realised that the emotional rollercoaster is not really a period or a short state – it is more like the only possible package emotions come in when you work in academia. My cheery comment was: “Well, at least we are not brain surgeons”. It helps to put things into perspective.

So with my current holiday-writing-paralysis, and the failure that this summer represents weather-wise, I keep grinding through a little bit of writing, a little bit of reading at certain times. I am sure this is just a temporary bug, but whilst it lasts, I will be like the sad character in Inside Out. I know I’ll come out of it, eventually. But for now, a little bit of the Valley of Shit coming my way.