Hope, with Pictures and a Drawing

In a burst of inspiration last weekend, I outlined my next book! I want to share my idea with you, and ask you for your thoughts, comments, stories, and suggestions. It’s going to draw a lot from reader/client experiences.

But first, please check out my Storify “The Professor Is In at Your Place” and find me on Twitter to submit your picture of the book at your house, with your pets, in the hands of concerned partners…by end of day tomorrow to be entered in a drawing for $300 TPII services! Here’s a few!

@ProfessorIsIn Your book arrived today. My dog adopted it immediately. Clear vote for what I am reading next! pic.twitter.com/dHMBsrOi9I — Eliza Bliss-Moreau (@eblissmoreau) August 4, 2015

Here’s @ProfessorIsIn ‘s book amongst my boxes as I pack to move for a VAP position. Thanks Karen! pic.twitter.com/dSLVv6MSlc — Alison Kyra Carter (@alisonincambo) August 12, 2015

.@ProfessorIsIn Non-academic husband reading the book. His thoughts? “This (academic job market) is bonkers.” #truth pic.twitter.com/y09B3E2OzO — Kaitlin Clinnin (@kclinnin) August 9, 2015

OK, about the next book.  I’m provisionally calling it:

The Professor Is You: Life After the PhD (or maybe, The Professor Is You: Notes for the Neo-Academic)  [thank you to Scott N. Nolan and Lindsey Dietz for these suggestions, and everybody else in yesterday’s long and wondrous FB discussion of potential titles.]

It’s about the “Ph.D. Brain”*: powerful, analytical, critical, skeptical, productive, logical, goal-oriented, but also obsessive, dismissive, self-critical, narrow, competitive, cynical and judgmental. The Ph.D. Brain is both wonderful and terrible, our best asset and worst enemy. With it, you end up with overdeveloped analytical skills, and underdeveloped intuition and self-care. Those of us who have it are seeing our native habitat collapse (the university, RIP) and we – both those on the tenure stream in the corporatized university, and those who never make it in – must learn how to thrive in a hostile environment. I’ll talk about academic productivity (and yes, getting tenure). But the larger gist is: in a post-acapoctalyptic world, how can you harness your Ph.D. aptitudes, and when necessary overcome them, to make your way forward in a healthy, balanced, financially secure way?

Very sketchy ToC:

I. Intro: The Endangered Ph.D. in a Post-Acapocalyptic World
II. The Ph.D. Brain: Greatest Asset or Worst Enemy?
III. Systems Under Stress: Productivity and Self-Care in a Contracting Academy
IV. How to Get Tenure Without Losing Your Mind
V. The Crux of the Matter: Healthy Productivity
VI. Learning to Value Yourself (and Get Paid)
VII. Activating Your Whole Mind
VIII. Finding a New Path with the Ph.D.

I’m sharing all this process so publicly because I actually want to launch a whole conversation about this. I’ll say more on the blog in coming weeks. But I want us to start talking directly about how our thinking and values have to change to survive and thrive as hyper-specialized species when our habitat is being razed.  I keep telling Kellee (whose dad was a logger): we’re the spotted owls, and we’ve lost our forest!

It seems to have touched a chord. The post got 50+ comments within a few minutes.  Here are a few:

Write it quickly and give me a road map out of here! (You have three years until I finish my dissertation!)

I like this idea very much. Have been having many talks lately about how to step from a largely critical, negative brain, one that can question and dismantle languages and systems, to a constructive, joyful mind that can make a life within or outside the academy. I love critique, but I also want to create, and the academy trained me mostly for the former.

Letting go is proving harder than I thought. I want my ivory tower back.

omg this sounds like my diary of my phd experience! lol i will definitely be sending you stories…horror stories..and recovery stories smile emoticon #confessionsofaPhD lol

Oh my gosh — yes! You could have a special section on dissertation babies and the emotional shitstorm that might occur if your academic life comes to a screeching halt AND you pile on post-partum mood issues. I would be happy to talk to you about my experience around this in PMs.

Yes and AMEN! I was just saying to Kellee on Monday that I am total crap at the self-awareness stuff. You nailed it: underdeveloped intuition and self-care. I am considered a successful pre-tenure academic and yet I am SO VERY VERY BAD at this. Sufferings galore! Please write fast!

What do you think? Links, cites, thoughts, and personal stories welcome here or privately through comment or email (gettenure@gmail.com). You know I always preserve total anonymity.

*Yes, I realize that’s an absurdly gross generalization. But I’m sticking with it for now. Because after working with 4000 clients across every field of the academy, I believe there is an orientation of mind distinctive to Ph.D.s (although not shared uniformly across individuals, of course) that is the product of the socialization process of Ph.D. training.

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Hope, with Pictures and a Drawing — 1 Comment

  1. I like your caveat at the bottom. I tell people that one thing I didn’t realize when I went into my PhD is that it is a powerful socialization into certain ways of being and thinking that is very difficult to break out of. And those of us who have pretty much given up on the academic job market really need to be “de-programmed.”

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