anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

Writing, PhD, a Man

Writing is truly hard work. I recall a conversation I had with Gareth about it. It is hard work, he said. You have to work at it, keep working at it.

(The bright side to dating Gareth is that I spoke writing and literature with someone who is doing it for a living. I remember what he told me about the way he reads a novel. I remember, obviously, what he said about writing. But I don't remember if there was any concrete advice. I don't think I asked, anyway. I don't think I'd ever really told him that I've always wanted to be a writer; or I might have mentioned it, but I didn't go in-depth into talking about it. I tended to keep this part of me as a closely guarded secret, a personal fact to be revealed only when I get to know someone better. But why? It is certainly not something that I am ashamed of; no, it is my last bastion of hope that I can find some purpose, maybe even meaning, in life, and so I cling on to it jealously, guard it with all my might, in case it bursts into flames once it touches the light of day. These days, though, I am more open about it.)

I have been working quite consistently on a short story, heavily based on last Friday afternoon when Matt took me punting, which is meant to express the angst over the PhD that I have been feeling for the past six weeks. I say 'meant to' because writing is hard work, and while it is not poorly written, I cannot help but find the writing depressingly pedestrian. It is also clear to me that I am making so many assumptions about the characters' background, assumptions that I need to articulate, but I don't know how yet. It's okay though. The goal is to finish this, and hence write the first complete story since 2008.

I am discovering that I am really good at describing feelings, but terrible - absolutely terrible - at describing events, places, actions. I suppose this makes sense; I have been spending the past decade, more than that, writing incessantly about my feelings. As for the rest, I have 9 years' worth of catching up to do.

I will get there. I have to. There is nothing else that I want to do with my life; all I want to do is to write. That's always been the only thing, the ultimate thing, the only thing that has ever truly made sense, ever truly mattered. Forgive the irony, but: words cannot adequately express how relieved I am to be finally writing again.

It is hard work. But it is worth it.


I am reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and while it is not a terrible book and is quite well-written, there is just something about American writers that don't quite capture my attention the way English writers do. This is a broad generalisation, of course, but they seem to lack the elegance of style that English writers possess. There is also something about the American religious way of life, played out in some conservative rural town, that doesn't quite appeal to me.

I'll keep on reading, though. I haven't read it in a few days but I'll keep with it, as I don't hate it and I try to finish books that I don't love, don't like, but don't hate. I don't like either that it's written in the second person; it seems so...easy. But I shan't undermine the quality of the novel and the writing, at least not until I have finished it.


The PhD. I kind of finished the draft of Chapter 2, but I just couldn't bloody form sentences today. The second strand of my conceptual claim about what communitarianism is, properly understood, was just so poorly expressed that it's obvious I was writing out of my arse.

Also, I was writing the part on how Singapore's communitarianism should be conceived of and I realised that I just didn't care. I didn't care about communitarianism; I didn't care what the hell Singapore does with its crappy communitarian theory. I didn't care.

But I care about a good quality PhD. I care a lot about publishing my thesis as a monograph. And so I will keep at it. I will keep at it.


And finally - Matt.

I don't know who's more confusing: him or Gareth. I haven't heard from him since the last message I sent about how he might get a second chance to kiss me if he played his cards right. Should I have been specific about the quality of his cards? Indeed, should I have told him that he's holding a royal flush right now, that he is unbeatable because I will not turn him down if he makes a move?

Or should I have cut the coyness and gone for the directness: 'Ask me out.'

Or should I just take matters into my own hands: 'Let's go out before my parents get here.'

I really want to do the latter. But I really want him to ask me out. I am not understanding at all why he's not asking me out. Does he like me or not? Why is he so slow? What is he still afraid of after I'd practically given him the green light to proceed? Does he just not want me that much?

Or maybe I see him too often. Maybe he's taking for granted the fact that he'll see me practically every day, and so he doesn't get a chance to miss me. It says something, doesn't it, that he resurfaced after I was away for some time in May and June: first Lake District, then Singapore/Hong Kong. I would stop going to Fitzbillies to goad him a little...but I can't. I need my caffeine fix.

Not only that: I also want to see him every day, too. He is a part of my fix. How else would I start my afternoon session in the library grinning like a teenager with a crush, just because he noticed my outfit and gave me a cup of cold brew, in a sit-in glass (as if wanting me to stick around) when I wanted to take away, and spent a few more seconds talking to me when there was someone waiting behind me? He even let me take the glass to the library. Above all else, he noticed my outfit.

So what is he doing? I know I should be patient with him because he's proven to be slow as molasses, and good things have so far come to me when I have waited. But this time, I don't have time to wait for him. My parents are coming this Sunday; afer that, I will be away for three weeks. I want to see him before I leave, and I can't see him when my parents are here, so we are running on a tight schedule.

I simply can't figure him out. He seems happy to see me, he said he really wanted to kiss me, but he doesn't seem to want to spend time with me? What's going on?!
Tags: books, matt, phd, writing

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