A student has written a blog post about her academic post partum. Interestingly, while I was weeding the garden today as a break from my absolutely final editing, I had similar thoughts. It is clever to let a doctoral work take three years. If you are a serious scholar, during three years you develop so much that the final product looks completely different from your original design. This book has taken me four years to write. It has nothing to do whatsoever with my initial ideas.
Much like Clementine, I kept telling myself that this was just the first/second/third draft and that I will fix it when the time comes. When the time came, there was no time to fix it. When I started, it was full of possibilities and bifurcations. Now, at the closure, it's finite. It's all pluperfect. Memory of a memory.
I postponed the assemblage of loose notes, that gradually took form of chapters, as long as I could. Originally, I had seven chapters. I now have eight, none even remotedly resembling the original seven. The book is not really what I thought it would be. Whether it's better or worse or rather the other way round, I cannot judge at the moment.
Like Clementine, I'd like to attach a note to my reviewers, saying: This is not what I intended to write. This is not even what I promised to write in the proposal and what was approved by the first round of reviews. It is – yes, a changeling, a stranger that I don't want to touch or acknowledge. The beautiful baby I once had in mind is irretrievably gone.
Perhaps it's just as well. Perhaps the ugly duckling would have grown into a big ugly duck. Now I can imagine what a beautiful swan it might have been. If only... what? If somebody else had written it for me? No way.