I’m taking a slight but important detour before we head out to the proposal. It’s the breakup. Now this might sound radical and some may get off of the motorcycle (yes, it’s that kind of road trip) upon hearing this advice but it is a critical change that will strengthen and transform you and your writing. You need to break up with the institution. And yes, breaking up is hard to do! Yet, this is one of those break ups that will work out to be best for everyone. If you are lucky and you had a healthy relationship with your advisor, that person will always be your BFF and let’s face it they will always be there to advise you as you continue on your academic journey, but when it comes to writing your book, things have to change. You have to stop writing for the institution and for your committee. You need to start writing not only for a wider audience, and other editors, but you need to rediscover (or perhaps even discover) your own voice. Your voice. It’s scary, I know. Years of academics have taught you not to trust your own voice. You could only trust other, more qualified, voices. This was a very important part of your learning curve because you were not ready yet. However, over the past maybe 5 or 6 years (or more) your research, your writing, your voice have been constrained by the protocols and restrictions of an academic discourse and somewhere along the line your voice was lost. You learned not to trust your own voice. As you begin the process of revising your dissertation to a book it is in many ways like an archeological dig of recovering your self in your work and you need to do that on your own. Remember that thing you did in front of a committee called a defence? Well, crossing that finish line gave you the license to use your own voice. You know your work better than anyone else. Be brave in it. Go back to the moment, the exact moment if possible, when that spark ignited the reason why you took your journey of discovery in the first place. Why is this work important? Why is this work important to me? In that spark, in that very moment, is your voice. It’s been waiting for you. Find it, grab hold of it, and more than anything, trust it. Then you are ready to begin. So cut the umbilical cord. Your advisor, your committee, and academic community have helped you to be ready for this moment. It’s time to strike out on your own. Risk writing your own voice in your own way. Shift your mind as you begin to reread and revise your work. Open it up and discard the “language” that blocked the way you say what needs to be said. Be fearless. It’s transformation time. The work ahead is indeed a road trip and you have a story to tell.
We are all waiting to hear you tell it!
Next up: The Proposal (for real)