Sunday, February 17, 2008

Paper 4 ... A New Project

For those of you who didn't know it before, I am insane.

J: "If Derrill didn't think so before, now he's convinced."

I've been really depressed at not getting any call backs from my interviews yet (still a couple hold outs) and Joy has been sending out new apps every day, but it's very stressful and it's been very hard to get solid work done on my dissertation for weeks. I did get some stuff done the other week because I signed up to present my work and I needed some work to present, but then just sat staring at the computer most of the day.

So then my adviser emails me. His post-doc up and got a job and has left their big, multi-year project in the lurch. Without any arm twisting, he asks if I would please be willing to drop my dissertation and work full time on this important book. I would be writing two of the chapters and reviewing/proofing the others, then listed as third co-author.

My first thought was that there was no way I would have time. There are precious few weeks before he and probably the other members of my committee leave for the summer, before which I'd have to defend the dissertation. But then Joy reminded me that I work best and happiest when I have way more to do than can possibly be done. She noted, correctly, how many times I have felt like God was inspiring me at certain points along the work, and testified of her confidence in me. The most touching part was that, when I reminded her that getting both done would really eat into family time, she said she would rather have me happy for one hour than all day as depressed as I've been. I decided to give it a second look.

It's really a good and important work, one that I believe will make a difference in the world for many people. I would be proud to be a part of it, and had actually wanted to be for a couple years as I heard him discussing it with Fuzhi (the post-doc) and other people working on the project. And the chapters I would be doing are right in line with the other research I've been doing on agricultural production and good governance.

I was still undecided that night, pondering the pros and cons and just how little time is left (and, incidentally, proved my lack of working ability again by not getting anything done after the call came, so even if I didn't get any work done on the dissertation, how would that be any different from now?). As I poured my heart out in family prayer that night, suddenly things came together for me. I realized how some of the things from Church and from priesthood blessings recently had foreshadowed this project coming.

And for the first time in a while, I felt peace. I felt peace and resolve. We've really adjusted our daily schedules this week to make it possible for me to spend full time on the project and still get an hour or two in on the dissertation and the job market every day. (Joy, meanwhile, continues her brilliant, dedicated pace at churning out several new job applications for me every day.) And Thursday and Friday, the first days of this new resolve, I've actually gotten back to writing the paper and making progress again ... just as advertised.

So maybe I'm going to have to find a way to keep my life overcrowded. It seems to have been one of my keys to success at BYU, and if it works here (as it did last November when I dropped the job market to work on the Hunger in Africa presentation at the UN with Per), it may be something I'll have to plan into my life.

So I've taken on far more than I can possibly do and pray that I still somehow finish the degree in time for whatever job is actually out there, somewhere.

So, in addition to the three papers of my dissertation, I'm working on:
Food Policy for Developing Countries book
Hunger in Africa book chapter
my meatpacking book
a paper on areas where people both buy and produce their own food
and planning future work on the effects of globalization on hunger and obesity, and identifying the difference between the effects of "market inequality" and "structural inequality" on economic growth.

A healthy pipeline, wa? This a picture of my graying hair. Watch for updates as developments are sure to be coming soon. :)

No comments: