I do not
do not study fairy tales.
People have their various mantras—their daily affirmations—and currently, the above one mine.
|Nope. No fairy tales over there for you.|
It is easy to get sidetracked by interests that I am not currently researching. In some ways, new subjects are brilliant because different subjects can spark thought, shift perspective and inform my current research, so that arguments are even stronger when I go back to them.
But then there is the interest trap. The interest trap is the difference between informing my reading and eclipsing my reading. These are the subjects that I find incredibly rich and interesting, that only have the most tangential connection to my current research. They are things that are just there–just on the edges of what I am supposed to be reading–so I am constantly struggling to fit them into my research.
|If I can’t see my real research I don’t have to do it.|
These interests can be both strange and myriad, and over the years have included the following:
- Potential hallucinogenic effects of green tea;
- Masculinity in the Tarzan books by: Edgar Rice Burroughs (all 26 of them);
- The ideological differences between Catholics and Protestants in early 19th century Britain;
- Post-mortem photography;
- Pink Floyd’s 1967 The Piper at the Gates of Dawn album;
- Criticism around historical adaptations of ‘Bluebeard’; and
- The Hannah Montana Movie.
But as much as I want to write on all of these subjects, as much as I might think that fairy tales are connected to Young Adult novels and Nineteenth-Century Gothic, they aren’t what I am supposed to be writing about right now: and that terrifies me. I’m afraid that this is the only chance I’ll have for people to actually listen to my ideas.
|No interests, I can’t pay attention to all of you!|
A lot of research seems to be based on knowing what you are not researching. More than that, it’s knowing what you are not researching, and then being all right with not researching those things right now. As much as I may want to, I am not going to write the definitive thesis on all things Young Adult popular culture through all of the ages. All of my knowledge and interests are not going to be magically relevant to each other and coalesce into one perfect document that will give legitimacy to my life. I am just at the beginning of my career. And that is a perfectly good place for me to be right now. I have to be willing to save some ideas for later, and have the confidence to believe that I will have the opportunity to explore those interests. To have the assurance to say, “There is time for me to be interested in that later.”
It is knowing that you have time.
That as big as doing a Ph.D. is, it is not the only thing that you are going to write.
Right now, I do not
do not study fairy tales.
But someday I will.