Friday, July 31, 2009

dissertation update

So, this is the home stretch, crunch time, the race to the light at the end of the tunnel...or wait. Maybe I shouldn't go toward the light...maybe the light means the dissertation's actually killed me in this process which I thought was interminable but turns out to be in fact terminal. Don't. go. toward. the. light.

I finally reorganized the thing, and now my three chapter dissertation is 7 chapters, not counting intro and conclusion. It makes things a lot more readable. "Chapter two" was nearly 200 pages on its own, even after taking out a whole section (which will go in the intro instead), and that's just dumb. So now it's four chapters, and things are a lot more even, all chapters being 30-40 pages or so.

I'm halfway done with my last substantive chapter. When I finish it, I will have only an intro and conclusion to write, and a general overhaul of filling in weak spots and proofing and finalizing. The plan is to send off a complete draft to all committee members by the beginning of September. This means finishing this current chapter and sending it off to my advisor ASAP, so that he can give it a read through, hopefully sign off on it, and then the whole thing can go to my second and third readers. That gives them plenty of time to read it (and love it! and find that there are no necessary major revisions!) and schedule a fall defense date before W leaves on his sabbatical in January. (I need to start finding out about this part of the process, and also get on top of getting my dossier in order before AAR interviews...sigh. I hate it that just when you have to be singleminded about finishing a writing project, the imminent prospect of finishing means at the same time you have to start thinking pragmatically, a multitasking situation I find hard to juggle.)

To help make this happen, Brent and Clare are taking a Clare-and-Daddy-trip to Grandmom and Grandad's in TX for three weeks in August. I am grateful, and totally dreading it. I don't say this to people often, but please, seriously, pray for me. Endurance, stamina, focus, basic sanity. Me and the dissertation alone in a big ol' house for three weeks with no relief...this could be a sort of horror movie scenario. And if you're local, consider it a Christian duty to give me a call if you realize I'm not online for, say, a period of 24 hours. Probably something dreadful has occurred, like my brain finally exploded, and intervention of some sort is necessary.

(Page count to date: 284, though this is a little inflated due to the way Endnote generates bibliographies.)


dallasjoyce said...

My sympathies on your dissertation. I typed my husband's, and we somehow lost the entire third chapter. We never did find it. He had to rewrite it.

About six weeks from the final deadline, I predict you will seriously consider quitting, just forgetting the whole thing. I've seen grad students stop at that point. It's something psychological. But hang in there! It is worth it.

Krister said...

I'm so excited to hear that you're getting close to the end/beginning! Perhaps you will allow those of us who are interested to read it in its final form one day? I'll be thinking of you during those three weeks and hoping it will be a useful, concentrated time of productivity and profundity. Peace!

JTB said...

thanks Joyce! I did indeed wrestle with discouragement more than once during this process but I think the momentum I've got going will carry me through. And you wouldn't believe the amazing amount of back-up strategies employed to keep me from some similar catastrophe--I've heard so many horror stories. Argh.

Krister that is a dangerous, dangerous request. I would happily send chapters to you in unfinished form if you would be interested. And then you can pay me back in informed commentary and feedback.

TKP said...

I'll send you a cupcake from the wedding along with your superhero mug. And maybe some other goodies.