Tonight my writer friend John-Michael Murphy (and let’s face it, my only friend) told me the best way to get over writer’s block is to write. That may seem obvious to most people but to me it was life-changing advice. I LOVE school: going to class, studying, reading, taking exams, writing papers…those are the things I live for. However, lately I haven’t been too confident in my ability to perform. My grades fell sophomore year–which generally isn’t a big deal to me because I understand that ‘I am not my grades’ and blah blah blah—the problem is that my grades are falling AND the quality of my work is diminishing.
I used to pride myself on being able to express myself and complex ideals in my writing, but this year proved me wrong. Now, sophomore year is over and I’ve spent the entire year and this entire summer working on my own personal research. It started with a group project in my environmental social science course. Our final project was on Community Supported Agriculture in Detroit. Then second semester, my final research paper for my Political Ecology course was on Community Supported Agriculture in Detroit. And this summer, I spent a month in Detroit working at a CSA. The theme is very clear to me. It was amazing to get to experience first-hand what I spent a year researching. Now in China I finally have a lot to say and I’m faced with this fear that whatever I write won’t be good enough to explain all that I’ve learned and experienced. The task of writing an academic research paper is daunting to say the least. I know what I think but I don’t know how to put it in academic language.
My professor’s comments from this past year echo in my head every time I sit down to write: run-on sentence, more commas, not specific enough, too broad of a topic…the list could go on forever. Essentially, my professors don’t know what I’m even getting at anymore. It used to be that I would write a paper and though I had grammatical errors my professors were intrigued by what I had to say and where I was going with it. They felt that if I had the space to go on, I would produce something publishable??? Now, I’m not so sure.
Tonight, I’m vowing to take the advice of JM. Though I am a bit trepidatious of my ability to articulate my critical thoughts, I know that the more I do it, the more comfortable I will become. Hopefully, one day my professors might believe in me again. So tonight I choose ‘To Blog’; my days of choosing ‘Not to Blog’ are over. I’m ready to make the transition from student to scholar.
All this may seem irrelevant to my time here in China, but the point is that my research here is stuff that I want to write about. I believe that writing will help others to understand food safety problems and help me to understand food safety problems as well. My fear of not doing it ‘right’ has kept me from processing my thoughts and that is the worst part about my phobia of academic writing–i’m keeping myself from a state of higher enlightenment which is the only thing I really seek in this world. So I guess to all of my followers, I’m promising to blog about the issues from here on out because I want you to learn and I want to learn as well.