Stress cracks began forming in my brain around 3:00 yesterday. By 4:00 I was running around screaming bloody murder, snatching myself bald, making the dogs' hair bristle. That's when I looked in the mirror and took the photo above. I'm thinking I should really consider doing something about all that facial oil.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is I've changed research paper topics yet again. What I was trying to do - reading over 2,000 slave narratives then put them into the context of the Depression era in which they were collected - wasn't, I realized, something you do in the space of five to seven pages. That's more like a Ken Burns television special, not a short term paper.
So what am I doing instead? Something much more suited to a short paper. I'm writing a study of the Carnegie libraries in Illinois which are on the Illinois Historic Registry. A bit less flair than writing about slave narratives? Definitely. But also, less chance I'll have a complete nervous breakdown. Weighing my perfect 4.0 grade point average against my sanity, I came out on the side of my sanity.
But really, it's not the paper's topic that's crucial – it's how well done it is, and how well I explain the process. I can expand the topic out to include a bit about Andrew Carnegie as philanthropist, why he cared so much about libraries, what makes a building qualify for the Historic Registry, etc. That's definitely more of a five to seven pager.
Today I'll restart the whole paper from scratch, locking myself away in a quiet place until I feel I've gotten comfortably far into the process. Then, on Sunday, I'll finish all I'm able to before I have to turn in the draft. And I WON'T LOOK BACK!
I still want to read those slave narratives, but apparently this isn't the time. My sanity thanks me for that. My hair's not unhappy about it, either.