Sunday, February 15, 2009

38 down, 12 to go!

My thesis was my Valentine's date this year. Not very romantic. (Although we did break my bed together once...)

I finally got my head in the right place to work on it after a conversation I had with one of my friends a few weeks ago. She's in the same boat I am -- working 50% (for those of you in the States, that's 20 hours a week) at a job with a fair commute, tired and needing a break from work when she gets home in the afternoon, and having a hard time succeeding in putting aside enough time each day to do research. And not stressed out about it yet, since the written version of the thesis isn't due until mid-May, with the defense in mid-June, but definitely feeling guilty about not doing as much work as one thinks one ought to.

Where our stories differ a bit is that I already started writing the analysis portion of my thesis last summer, but got seriously bogged down with a pesky chapter back in October. I had a lot to say in this particular chapter, but hadn't really done all the research I needed to do and hadn't narrowed down what I wanted to talk about quite enough. And so I thought about it for a couple of weeks, decided on how I wanted to narrow things down, spent a couple more weeks taking notes, wrote the first few pages and then got completely sidetracked by life for awhile. Then I told myself that I would churn the chapter out during the week I had off for Christmas/New Year's... but then I got very sick with bronchitis and was too miserable to do anything but lie flat on my back in bed. And all the putting off and waiting and dragging things out made me feel guilty. And the more guilty I felt, the less I wanted to think about my thesis and the more paralyzed I became.

And then my friend and I talked about it, and I realized that I'm not in such a bad place. At the time of our conversation (late January) I had 28 pages already written and turned in, and I had an 8-page rough draft of the current chapter happily stored away on my hard drive. These 8 pages still needed a bit of an overhaul to get the theoretical argument structured the way it should be, but at least I had already spit out most of the chapter. And when I had to write a thesis for my BA, I didn't even start writing the analysis portion until April (with a mid-May deadline to turn everything in, just like my current thesis). So, 28 pages done plus 8 more in very rough draft form at the end of January wins out against 0 pages at the beginning of April, hands down.

Funny how getting rid of guilt can free you up so much. A few days after that conversation, I went to check out the last few books I needed to take notes from to finish the chapter. I spent two weekends taking notes, and then this weekend I sat down to put it all on paper. I finished the (now 10-page) chapter this afternoon and emailed it in as quickly as I could! That milestone felt so good.

So now I have just 12 pages left to go! It will feel so good to go to the library tomorrow and turn in all the books that have been sitting in my room these past few weeks.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for you, Kitty!