Yesterday, I had a meltdown with regards to the writing. This chapter has been kicking my ass for two reasons: 1) It's a grab-bag of things that are vaguely related to each other, but not nearly as much so as in the other chapters; and 2) I can't figure out which way round to string the various elements. The frustrations built to a point where I started to question whether I was even capable of writing this book, and whether I'm not good enough to do the thing I thought I had a reasonable knack for doing. So, I curled up on the couch and cried a little.
Yes, that's right: this chapter has officially brought me to tears.
Now, this is not the first time that suggestions (whether internal or external) as to my competence in my chosen profession have made me weepy. There was a mini-meltdown after my latest round of Revise-and-Resubmit with Journal of Excellent Studies; I wept copious tears after I got rejected in grad school for omigodhowwillidomyresearchwithoutit grant; meetings with my M.A. advisor made me cry on a weekly basis for almost two full semesters (though never once in his presence). I do not have a particularly thick skin when it comes to my work.
Now, this can all be related back to earlier discussions of fraud complex. But it makes me wonder about gender and visible meltdowns in academia. Is this more common among women? Do they all, like me, try to hide it, for fear of not being taken seriously? Do men cry about these things, but just not talk about it? Do they process it differently – say, with anger, or by dismissing critics as uninformed or irrelevant? Do they have thicker skins?
Or is it just me?
The good news is, the meltdown seemed to be therapeutic (as meltdowns usually are, for me): combined with some solid emotional support from Interesting Development and a good night's sleep, I woke up this morning determined to make some progress, and to let the chapter be whatever it will, so long as it's done.
That'll teach that meltdown who's boss.