Friday, March 23, 2007

Weekend of Busy Business

So last night after my post, I sat there in the coffeehouse amid the students and distractions and cleaned up what I could (without sources) of Chapter 2. It came in at 41 pages. Huzzah! (It's not done, of course. There are practically no voices in that chapter but mine. I think what will really happen is Peppy Advisor will suggest that it should be cut in half and expanded, leaving the other half on the cutting room floor. But that's fine. I just needed to get it to a point where I feel like I can leave it and go work on other chapters.)

So today I woke up late, but ready for my weekend of business. Since I'm meeting with Peppy Advisor on Monday, I really want to get an outline or some notes of the undone chapters together. I really want to sit there with PA and a file folder with the stapled chapters and then some notes on the others.

(A friend of mine wanted to chat about his dissertation for a while, so he brought his chapters all printed out and stapled. It looked so impressive. You know, because he had, like, chapters. Printed out. And stapled. You know, as if he had actually been doing something. As if he were, I don't know, like uh, writing a dissertation. I can't explain it, but it was as if seeing the stapled pages made it real. Though people ask me about the dissertation and I type shit out onto my computer screen, the connection between my typing and the bound copies in the library seems pretty illusory to me. Printing. Wasting paper. This will make it real. A friend just sent me the article from the New York Times about the couple who is not using toilet paper so the guy can write a book about living environmentally. Apparently, I'm counteracting all their noble efforts.)

So here I sit in what I've referred to before as the blog chair. Purring cat on my lap. I'm going to work for three hours. On. The. Dissertation. I'm sure there will be plenty of updates this weekend. And frantic checkings of Dr. Crazy's world too, since she is also having one of those weekends of hellish work. At least she has the possibility of a date. All I do is grouse at the SO on the phone and then apologize on IM. Have I heard from Witty Sardonic Friend in North Dakota? No. But really if you looked up happiness in the Earnest English dictionary, you'd see a picture of me unshowered in the blog chair, tabby sprawled across my arms making it difficult to type, my hair all freaky as if there had been a rave on my head that I wasn't invited to, cup of coffee at my side. Of course, in the really happy section, the coffee wouldn't have grounds floating on the top because SO would have made the coffee and be plunking on his laptop doing godknowswhat nearby. (I like to think he'd be looking at porn. But he'd probably be reading stuff on community-building and good corporate models and Belgian beer.)

**Update around 5PM, when most people are done for the week**

So now I've really finished the first real draft of Chapter 2, having filled in sources and quotes that I had left blank last night. I've also taken a shower, since there's the remote chance I'll find some money in the seams of my couch and go out to get something to eat. From very close to my front window, I can hear the happy voices of children and other happy people, a ball bouncing, cars, of course, and some poor allergic person sneezing. It must be a beautiful day out there.

Done with Chapter 2 for the time being, I think I'm going on to Chapter 4. And it's back to square one: free-writing. What do I want this chapter to be? Done, of course. Back to the grindstone.

**Update around 11PM, when I should definitely not be working**

I futzed around with some notes for Chapter 4 and then realized I needed to do some reading. But I didn't do it. Instead I started to read something else, stopped, and, feeling all weird and nutso, crawled into this weird position in order to figure out what I should do next. Fall asleep, apparently, because that's what I did. I woke up a couple hours ago, went back into Chapter 4, started playing with ideas for timelines (since that IS the purpose of the meeting with PA anyway), and made a decision: I'm going to hand her a big wad o'paper. I'm going to give her the intro and Chapter 2, even if I only have empty section headings in the Intro. I just need her to be able to see the whole. We won't have time to really think about what I should do about the structural problems (I think two chunks of Chapter 2 have to go in order to make room for the voices of the field), but at least I can give her some stuff to read in preparation for that discussion. Meanwhile, I can be cranking on Chapter 4, which so far seems to be going well. I read some Words of Wisdom that really helped me work today. If you're writing a dissertation, do not pass go, do not keep reading, just get over there!

I really should do something else now, like watch a movie, but I strangely don't feel like it. I am going to though. I guess this is what it feels like when that itchy-must-get-dissertation-done bug finally hits. YAY for dissertation bugs!

2 comments:

gretchen said...

hi earnest...it would seem were in the same place: unshowered, poverty stricken, angry, and writing a dissertation. nice to meet you!

i haven't read all of your posts, so i may be missing the obvious--how many chapters have you written and how many to go?

i'm revising my intro right now which is seriously depressing because revising what i wrote four years ago really means entirely re-write. ugh. in soladarity, g

Earnest English said...

Hi Gretchen,

I know unshowered, poverty-striken, and angry is part of the process -- but doesn't it get OLD?! ;)

So here's the breakdown (I mean the diss, not mine): I've written two very bad chapters (1 and 2) that will definitely need some fairly big revision, but. . .who cares. So I'm working on the intro this weekend, even if it's spotty, just so Peppy Advisor can read it altogether. I've written 20 pages of Chapter 3 and have been digging in some to Chapter 4. And that's all there is. I think I must be the kind of writer who has to write a bad version of the whole thing before I can call any particular chapter done -- or even really feel like I'm ready to revise. So I would say that I'm about 75-80 pages away from a first draft of the whole mess. About a month to six weeks, I guess?

If you're revising your intro, does that mean that the rest of it is (gulp) done? Rock on!

Dissertators unite!