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Major Milestone

October 26, 2011

Yesterday, 25-October, I hand-delivered the thesis to each of my committee members. Woot!Woot! Major milestone achieved!

As long time readers of this blog know, I’ve been working on the thesis project, THE FANTASTIC MACHINE, for a while. Over the summer I wrote a long, wandering, and inconclusive draft. Turns out, I didn’t like what I ended up with, which was a bummer, because I had spent months working on it.

Actually, full-disclosure here, I was splitting my time between reading, writing and working on the yard. I admit, I spent a lot of time getting the backyard into a finished condition, which was a lot of fun. But like the grasshopper who never put anything into his 401(k), I found myself at the end of July without a finished thesis.

I needed a new plan.

I started with the PSU Graduate Candidate Deadlines and worked my way back from there: I’d submit my thesis in mid-October; I’d spend n-days revising it before submission; if I finished the first draft on 1-Sept, then I’d have n=45days(approx) for revision. So my deadline became 1-Sept for a new first draft.

I spent that last weekend in July picking apart the early draft and building a new outline. We had to miss the final summer performance of Trek in the Park, but I came up with an outline that I liked and I even wrote up the first couple thousand words–off to a good start.

It seemed like a good idea to track my progress in a blog, so I set that up. I did it partly because it’s fun to share info with folks, but also because there’s a special kind of self-motivation you can only get from the panopticon.

The first rough draft came out pretty fast, got it finished on 26-August. As it happens, the end of that draft did not fully match the beginning of that draft–some ideas had evolved along the way. I finished an “alignment revision” two weeks later on 10-September. Once I had something I could rely on, I was ready to jump into the first real improvements to the text.

Between 10-September and 24-October I rewrote the thesis, again. I threw out one or two chapters and replaced a few more, but mostly I smoothed out what was there. This was like another alignment revision in that there were some changes made to the text.

And that’s the version I handed off to my adjudicators. Frankly, it could use another two rounds of writing. The reason for that is pretty simple: through this process I’ve become more familiar with the characters and that lets me write more accurately about the ways in which they grow and change over time.

However, I’ll take a short break from working on it until the Thesis Defense, on 4-November. After that, I’ll dive back in. I guess I won’t be calling it the Thesis Project after that, though.

In the meantime I’ve got to prepare for my defense by writing a few essays and doing lots of paperwork. Feels like a good time to clean the house!


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