I’ve been thinking more about what it means to “find my voice” as a researcher and writer. It’s not a black and white thing. It’s more like a bend in the road where I’ve been able to turn into another and better direction. I expect there will be times when I’ll feel lost again or paralyzed by fears of criticism, but now that I’m drilling into this concept I’m hoping I’ll have more tools to find my way again when those feeling strike.
Another reflection worth making is that being able to take more ownership over my work has made it more possible for me to determine where and how to draw the line on what needs further exploration and explanation. I used to suffer from a compulsion to research every aspect of something attempting to treat it comprehensively. But that’s not useful. No one likes to read essays with that kind of comprehensive attention unless truly every aspect of the subject absolutely needs to be there. Rather, finding my voice or taking ownership of the project means being able to discern what’s really important.
Perhaps I, the insecure researcher, wanted to be comprehensive in detail because it was my defence against having to actually say something. Perhaps I hoped that by putting my subject through the paces I’d be able to let it speak for itself and not have to come up with something on my own.
Regardless, it is much easier to write with authority engaging the scholarly voices with whom I contend than to avoid making those confrontational statements.