Dear Dissertation on the Correlation Between History and Identity Formation in Colonial Massachusetts and Pennsylvania,

We’ve been working at this for three years now, and I think it’s time we faced some facts. I have not invested in you as much as I should have; I let myself get distracted with other projects. I mocked up a few screenplays, Jessica forced me to write a few poems, but I never forget that you are my bread and butter. Still, this relationship is starting to really stress me out. You probably sense that I am a little frustrated, the way that I spend time with you every day but it’s never quality time, the way you are always on my mind but we never seem to get anywhere. You’re right about all that. But I am tired of people asking about you: they always ask about you, how you’re doing, how far I’ve gone with you. To be honest, I want to see this through to the end, I want to go all the way with you, but then I want to put this relationship behind me. I’ve learned a lot from you: I now know that I love deadlines. I love small tasks that can be completed in a day. But it’s time, really.

I know what you’re thinking, Dissertation on the Correlation Between History and Identity Formation in Colonial Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. You think that if I finish with you that you will just get thrown on some shelf in only one library in the world, never to be read again. OK, that part is basically true. But I think it’s better if you think of yourself as a seed, or a caterpillar, even one of those ugly ducklings (not that I think you are ugly), any of those things that blossom into something better. You see, I can’t let you go even if I want to. The tenure gods demand that I be there by your side to ensure that you are transformed into a beautiful thing called a “book.” It’s true, you’ll be an overpriced hardcover by some academic press, but you will be found in at least 100 libraries across the country, and probably several libraries in Canada and England. And yes, I will change your name slightly, hoping to give you a little sexier feel for a broader appeal, but deep down it will always be you in there. I also assure you that you will be on the shelf in my house, my parents’ house, my siblings’ houses, my advisors’ houses, and perhaps on the shelf in the houses of a few close friends. And even if I write something better—fingers crossed—you will always be the first. Nobody can take that away from you.

Kyle Farley