So this is it. This is going to be my dissertation diary. I’m not going to make any commitments as to how often I will write in it; I just read that I should be spending at least 15 minutes every day on my dissertation. Every day for the next four, five, six years! Intriguing at least.
I’m at the very beginning of the process, and my thoughts are really unfocused at this point. In this first entry, I will not go into the theme itself, there will be ample opportunity for that. I would just, for a moment, like to ponder over the implications. At least four years of my life will be dedicated, at least to some degree, to researching and writing about this theme that has yet to unfold.
As I am writing this, I feel that I want to write, I like to explore my thoughts by putting them in writing, although writing in English makes it even harder for my fingers to keep up with my ever-wandering mind.
The first question that springs to mind as I embark on this diary is: should I publish it? Not the dissertation I mean, but these notes? It seems, on the one hand, pointless and vain. Who would want to read about the nitty-gritty details of my struggle towards acquiring a doctorate? Not many, probably, but there might be a reason or two to do it anyway.
Publishing my thoughts might help me overcome a feeling of awkwardness that I frequently have about this project: who am I to think I can do original, creative research? These isolated thoughts, rough outlines of a theme that I might want to pursue, seem so superficial and gratuitous! If I would just go ahead and publish my thoughts and ideas and processes – that would seem to provide some validity to them. An irrational thought maybe, but it works for me.
Publishing these notes may also invoke some sense of urgency. I know I have a tendency to keep thoughts and ideas to myself for too long, thinking they need to mature before they are ready to be shared with the world. This is an inhibition that will seriously slow me down and that I must learn to set aside. It has already happened and I have not even begun to formalize a proposal!
More than a year ago now, Henk Scholten invited me to come to the Vrije Universiteit to discuss the possibilities of him supervising my dissertation. We had a really nice and productive discussion and I felt both flattered and motivated, and told him I would write some ideas I had down for him to ingest. We would have a follow-up meeting soon.
I explored the idea for a while, discussed implications with a couple of colleagues and friends, thought about interesting themes. I think I even wrote some things down, but I did not feel any of them were good or mature enough to even put forward to Henk.
Although the though of doing a dissertation was on my mind now and then over the months that followed, I found myself glad to be distracted by other things to occupy my mind and time. And so time passed, and here we are. I feel that I want to do this more strongly now, for reasons I will explain in a future post. So I am going to write. And explore. It will be beautiful. I can be that naive.