For everyone who has asked, yes, I've been thinking about dissertation topics. I have come up with several ideas, some of which are even viable, doable, and credible. None of them I am passionate about. I've been trying to decide whether that was because they really didn't excite me and spending a year (or more) on them would make me miserable, or whether it was because, as Great White teaches us, we are once bitten, twice shy.
Then this morning I read an article about cubicles. It made me think, this is the kind of thing I want to write. Not that wish to write about the rise of cubicles in the corporate world, precisely. At the end of the article, I laughed to see that it was in fact based on a sociology student's dissertation. Well, there you go; it can be done.
Part of the problem is that I feel as if I had been preparing to write the discarded dissertation for well over a year. I was well marinated in the topics it would examine. When it came time to come up with a new topic, I decided to throw away part of that preparation and looked for a dissertation that maybe used the other part, but that more importantly met a set of criteria such as a) can be done in a certain time frame b) is not about x or y or z c) will position me on the market in a certain way. That's no way to find something you're passionate about.
It's time for a new approach. I'm going back to the topic I was ready to abandon. And I'm looking at it, and the things around me, and not thinking instrumentally. We'll see what turns up.