how reading large amounts of text from different realms of the literary world have turned me against my own writing-- not the writing itself but the ACT of writing. I'm unable to refocus my energy from consumption to production, and it's becoming increasingly frustrating. I wonder more and more about the concept of a PhD in Creative Writing and what the real point of such a degree is. For me, thus far, it has allowed me to bide time while I write and read, broadening my knowledge base while also using this knowledge to inform my poetry. Even with the unbelieveable faculty shortage in my department, I've managed so far so good (I think, anyway. . .) mostly because of the other students and our slight but necessary support system. But now as I mull over this process of reading 100 books and interacting with five faculty members, egos intact, it's all pretty much lost on me. On days like today when I have no class, no studying, very little time to really THINK because I'm hanging out with Eliot, I just wonder if it's all worth it in the end. The reality of the situation is that I can't even necessarily get a job with a PhD unless I have a book, so what's the point? Wouldn't I be better off writing all day and pouring my time ito getting my book published than reading Shelly and Keats next to Rosemary Waldrop and Bell Hooks? Can you imagine sitting down to write with this chorus of voices in your head? It gets better- Plato next to Lyn Hejinian and Baudelaire. Walter Banjamin next to Peter Elbow and Adrienne Rich. Stanley Fish next to Longinus and Luce Irigaray. The voices, the voices!
I'm also starting to question the process of "going on the job market." Several of my friends have managed to get jobs without having books, but these are amazingly bright and very well-published people with books on the brink of being discovered. It seems like it would make more sense to have creative writers complete our dissertation (creative) before taking our exams- this way we can be sending our manuscripts out after really working on them our professors and peers, getting as much feedback as possible, and then send it out for the next few years while we study for exams. If all goes well, exams would be done by the time the book gets picked up and THEN it's time to enter the job market.
I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. Mostly I wish I could write in the face of all this reading-- what an interesting sound that would be. I'm still working on the collaborative project, which is pretty amazing, but somehow that's easier b/c someone else is carrying some of the weight. I guess I'll just keep reading. . .I don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter.