during the middle of last week i found myself staring into the eyes of a deadline. this fall i'm applying for postdoctoral fellowships so that i can take some time off of teaching to write my book.
of coruse, every application requires a statement of research. these essays usually require you to say, very succinctly, what is your project, what is the status of your research, what you will be doing during your time on the fellowship, and why your project is important (its significance).
i confess that i've been struggling with the fellowship applications. i think that because i've let go of my writing (no blogging, no journaling, certainly no academic writing) i'm having a difficult time articulating my project. i frequently find myself at an utter loss for words.
deadline looming, i found myself that day agonizing over each phrase of my statement of my research and plagued by self-doubt. suddenly my phone rang. i saw from the caller ID that it was a woman i know from south texas.
she is an artist and gallery manager in the rio grande valley that i met recently because of a paper i wrote about border art. though we most often talk about art, she has also expressed an interest in my research in south texas, because my field site is her home town. in fact, a couple of months ago, she asked if she could have a copy of my dissertation to reference for a paper she was writing.
that day on the phone she told me that she had read my dissertation and had been "riveted." my jaw dropped. first of all, the only people that have read my entire dissertation (apart from my committee members) have been my dad and joseph. second of all, riveted?
she told me that she recognized the people and the stories that i had written and said that it was great to see it all laid out in an academic paper. she shared some anecdotes about her experiences with some of the issues that i speak to in my research. her main reason for calling, however, was to brainstorm about how some of the concepts that i cover in my dissertation could be extended and/or translated to some of the art projects that she is currently undertaking.
what serendipity that as i was writing about my project in south texas, a woman from there should call me and tell me that my work was good and meaningful.
i wish that i could say that after the phone call, all the right words came to mind and that i wrote a brilliant research proposal, but no. it was still a long couple days of writing and revision. nonetheless, i was encouraged and felt a little more faith in myself that afternoon.