27 10 2014

While I’ve yet to hear back from my examiners, and truly know not what to possibly expect, I consider the composition and completion of my 75,000-word thesis a minor triumph of sorts. With its submission, as of September 2nd this year, the project that has dominated the last eight years of my life begins to slowly crawl towards its long-anticipated conclusion.

While I have wanted to move on, to write something new and to embark upon a new endeavour – and while my ideas for new projects have been both manifold and exciting – I have found the composition of even a short blog post to that effect to be of insurmountable difficulty. It took me a full week before I was even able to read again, and almost two weeks before I was able to return to my study of the Mishna. Even now, I am not yet entirely ready to render my observations into coherent prose.

It was Winston Churchill who once remarked that, if you find yourself going through hell: keep going. The advice is easier given than followed, and there were very many times when I considered aborting my candidature and putting off indefinitely that which until December last year I’d not yet even begun to write. The task of writing a thesis within the space of a year is not one that I can recommend. The final two weeks were nightmarish; for almost a month after I had finished, my occupation during that time comprised the substance of my anxious dreams.

Now that it is, for the time being, “over”, I have been pleased to rediscover the joys of reading. I hope soon to likewise rediscover the joys of writing. At such a time, I look forward to sharing some of the more interesting and unusual pieces of casuistry that have delighted me over these past several weeks – and hopefully some good news too, once word gets back to me from the university. In the meantime, dear anonymous and faceless friends, I bid you a temporary adieu.




2 responses

27 10 2014
John Hobbins

Congratulations, Simon. It’s a tribute to who you are that the process nearly did you in,

27 10 2014

Huge congrats on the submission!! You deserve to be where you are now… and welcome back to the land of the living :)

It sounds like the sense of excited relief was subdued by the bruising left by the process. Maybe the process didn’t go exactly as you wanted it to and you felt little sense of control over the mad rush and the final product, but what you have come out of it with is the main thing… and as the dust settles, I trust that you’ll find in your hands the seed for even greater academic and personal growth out of it.

What you’ve written here reminds me of the ending wind-down of Tolkien’s LOTR. But I hope that your golden days and rigour of journey are only just beginning :)

In the meantime I’m really glad that you’ve found the joy of reading again so quickly, and I think that you should nurture it quite a bit every week while also being sure not to put any self-imposed deadlines or routines on yourself till after Chanukah or so :)

You used to write a lot of poetry, and I think the muse probably would have been all but silenced by the pressure of academic writing. If you can’t bear to structure long pieces, you could try making a post-thesis collection of under-fifty-words explorations of human experience that are anchored in concrete objects, especially those from nature, but not limited to what you wrote about in the thesis. Or use any other comforting limitation of form or theme that is still sure to stir up creative thinking and revive your writing, even if none of them are your masterpiece.

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