This fall I visited with a bunch of my friends from college for the first time since I, you know, graduated from college. In a move that surprised just about everyone, of my core-friend group from college, I'm the only one who's not in graduate school right now. One thing I realized, however, is that I haven't exactly dropped off the face of the academic-earth. Every semester since graduation (until this one), I've been enrolled in classes and have accumulated a number of credit hours because it was fun, because I felt like I wasn't done with school.
On Sunday I sent in a paper for the last of these projects. I did something last semester with a philosopher professor (and friend, really) on free software and open source development methodologies and processes, though the project was at least vaguely anthropological. Part of my plan with doing this last project was to get a little bit of "open source" and not-psychology not-women's studies on the record; the second part of the plan was to delay the student loan people until I'd collected enough dough to be debt free when the grace period finally wears off. With both of these goals firmly accomplished, I'm entering what will probably be about 2 years of not applying to graduate school, so graduate school would start in the fall of 2012. But I might do a trial application to two places a year earlier. Anyway...
This chance for a break is a really good thing. My previous attempts at academia have all been for the wrong thing, which hurts. I've also been really young (spring birthday, college in three years) which doesn't help either. So spending the next few years learning stuff outside of school, becoming more of a historian/anthropologist, writing a few novels, letting tychoish.com break the million word mark, working in an awesome job, saving money to do things like go to a residential writing workshop (giving in, I know), and contributing to open source projects. It'll be good for the soul.
One thing I realized before I started the project that I just finished, was that I hadn't written anything academic-like in years. I mean really sat down and wrote something new. By the time I got done with school I was settling into a rut and I had enough of a background in what I needed to write--for academic things--that I was really stuck. So this past fall when I started to set down the goals for the project, although I wanted to spend most of my time doing background work (reading the literature, and 'living/working' in open source worlds), in the back of my mind I had the notion that this research (such as it is) that I'm doing now will turn into a paper sometime down the road.
So that's on my mind, as a project for my "not in school" period. While it's clearly a long way off and I have a lot of work to do to get to the point where I might have an essay of any useful depth, it's terribly interesting to think about doing scholarly work outside of the confines of academic schedules. I've never really had the opportunity to write a single piece of intellectual work that I could work on for more than four months from inception to typesetting.  Graduate programs expect students to have research experience and undergraduate curriculum are designed to provide students with research experience, and yet sustained attention to a research project is something that's really hard to schedule/arrange before graduation.
Every day's an adventure after all...
|||I wrote that sentence without considering fiction writing, which is just interesting. Which often take much longer than that. In anycase...|