Sunday, April 5, 2009

Faulks this. Fox this. And Fowlks this again.

God, sometimes writing is like laying pipe. Samuel Beckett referred to his poems as “turds.” That’s exactly how I feel right now. Write now.

I have to compose this 500 or so word statement of purpose for my application to the Masters program at Columbia and I’ve never had to write anything worse. It’s supposed to lay out my past work and preparation, my academic plans of study, and my future career objectives. I’ll be damned if I know! I just want to read books again and get a degree for it, do I need to know anything beyond that?

I’ve completely psyched myself out. I haphazardly applied to a couple of PhD programs, completely sure I wouldn’t get in and uncertain that if I did I would even want to go. I needn’t have worried, but after I applied I realized what a craptastic job I had done on all the applications. I had never even Googled “statement of purpose” once and I’d certainly never read a book or anything about how to do it; I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never done such a half-assed job on anything in my life.

So now I am actually taking this last chance application seriously. It’s due in a week. I’ve done way too much Googling at this point and I have to sell myself as the greatest thing since Marcel Proust. And I’m probably putting all my eggs in this basket just to be disappointed. I don’t really know why I want to get in. I just want to have made a decision of some kind about even the short-term future.

Beckett puts it best: I’m “more than ever frightened by the prospect of effort, initiative & even the little self-assertion of getting about from one place to another.”

This is a very cantankerous entry, so I’m going to end it. Somehow just the thought that I am communicating with you two renews me a bit.



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  2. I'm sure it will sound great in the end. I'm now trying to work on a personal statement as well, for a post-bac psychology (really more cognitive neuroscience!) program at Columbia. I don't know if I would go even if I got in because it's quite expensive, so I'm using my uncertainty to procrastinate writing it. Anyway, I just read this incredibly depressing article that worried me a lot, even though it's more for the humanities. I'm not sure what I think of it still, but I feel obligated to send it to you, and am curious to see what you think of it.