Thesis musings and writing process

January 11, 2007 at 4:20 pm (thesis)

I will be circulating the intro and Chapter One of my thesis at the end of the month, and Chapter Two and the conclusion in early February. While my advisor has seen all the guts and cogs (and it has both, in my imagination, a sort of cyborg thing, which I’ll have to try to explain later), nobody else on the committee has read any of it.

I am imagining that I am producing something which will manage to satisfy none of them. I have no reason to believe this other than my own fears and projections, and I have no reason to believe that I will then be ordered to turn around and produce anyone else’s vision of this thing before my defense date, but I’m still feeling strange about it. It may simply be that it didn’t end up going where I thought it would in some cases, and I don’t have time or space to take it to some of the places I wanted to visit. I simply made the decision to move forward to revision with what I’ve got rather than forging ahead any more into the stuff that really fascinates me.* That feels odd, since my writing process has almost always involved research up to the last minute and writing literally until deadline, in hopes of hitting that kairotic moment where a book falls off the shelf or I happen across a footnote and suddenly — the angels sing! — I have found The Thing To Tie It All Together in Just The Right Way.

What I’m having to realize now is that writing is maybe just this kairotic, but that I have to stop looking for that gift from elsewhere. True, if I don’t open any more books my conclusion will look different than it could, since I’m mostly just gesturing towards “here’s what I didn’t do but somebody ought to go there.” But in any case it will look different *depending on what article I read most recently and on how well I slept last night.* I’ve never lived with a writing project for this long, yet I still don’t feel I’ve done it justice, and I have to find a way to live with that. It sounds elementary, but it’s the difference, maybe, between knowing and *grokking.* I might actually be *really* learning something new about my writing process (mostly that it’s unrealistic and needlessly drawn out in the wrong directions and that I still have a great deal to learn about focus). I hope it sticks.

*The problem with “the stuff that really fascinates me” is in part that I have a tendency, once I’ve thought of something or articulated something or even read something, to figure that it’s not worth revisiting, as everybody else in the world must already know it and understand it better than I do and I should shut up before I don’t have any more friends. So once I’ve dived pretty deeply into a questoin, I move away from its depths too quickly and instead go on to something *else* that fascinates me. The things that fascinate me the most are the things that I don’t know anything about yet, so even though I’m not done with exchange economies, right now all I want to do is read about apocalyptic ideas in OE literature. This is all screwy in so many ways, but there I am.

The other part is that I simply don’t have the language skills to explore what I really want to explore and I can’t get them this semester. So I’m irritated at myself a little bit for having to “settle for” what I’m doing. Hey, I never, ever claimed that this blog would feature any logic. I’m only whining here because people on my livejournal are tired of hearing about it and nobody reads this thing.

ETA: Or this could all be part of the same old “I’d rather research than write” thing, which is tied into the “I’m frankly scared to commit anything to paper for an audience larger than a seminar classroom” thing.

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