As crude as the title of this post is, it accurately describe the stage I am in the writing process. At this point, I have achieved a very big step–every single chapter is drafted, and all the words are out on the page. But this step is not really anything to celebrate yet. I even hesitate to use the phrase “all of the words” because by no means is my dissertation “finished.”  It’s time to re-read, re-work, re-write, and then re-visit and re-do all over again. My friend Rob called this stage “polishing the turd into a diamond.” I hope my first draft isn’t too “turdy” (Is that a word? Is there a continuum of how much of a piece of crap your writing can be at the beginning?) but it’s time to polish.

I approached revising with this project in pieces. After each chapter I drafted, I would send it on to Anne-Lise. She would give me comments and either say she wanted to see another draft of that chapter or parts of it or say it was good until the final read. She wanted to see parts of my Ch 2 (Lit Review) and Ch 3 (Methods) again and said my Ch 4 and 5 (Results) were probably good until the final read. This was a good method for me to stay on top of revisions. Even though she said she didn’t need to see my Chapter 4 and 5 again, they still needed polishing. So when she would send one back, I would take a few days and fix that chapter up.  I figured that this would prevent me from doing marathon revising sessions so close to the due date.

However, due to some time constraints like grading and job interviews, I just sent her 3 chapters at once, which is basically half of my dissertation. Anne-Lise now needs to read two new chapters she hasn’t seen yet (Ch 6 and 1–yes, I wrote Chapter 1 last) and make sure the other two she wanted to see again are good (Ch 2 & 3).  So it’s possible that I might have a lot of revisions on more than half of my dissertation that need to get done before the due date. So much for staying on top of things. Not to mention that since my dissertation currently doesn’t exist in one giant Word document, nobody (not even me) as read it start-to-finish.

So, there’ a pretty good chance I have a giant turd on my hands that needs to be a diamond pretty quickly. Since my defense is May 7, I need to turn in a “diamond” to my committee by April 23. That is 2 weeks from tomorrow. 14 days away. Good news is that I will have to call it a day on all of the polishing by then–it is possible to be so hung up on getting everything perfect that you never finish. That’s never been a problem for me–I like finishing things too much–but it is nice to know that in 2 weeks, it is what it is– turd or diamond. I hope, of course, it’s the latter.

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