My Baby’s All Grownsed Up

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As of 7 am this morning, I sent my dissertation to my committee. These last 72 hours have been a flurry of revising, editing, and reading this thing over and over and over again. It’s ready, it’s time.

I feel a little bit like a mom sending her kid off to Kindergarten for the first time. The kid is ready, but I am contemplating my own journey of raising her, reminiscing about where the time went, and feeling very anxious that she’ll have a good day, that she’ll be liked by other people, that’ll she’ll make a positive impression… Hitting Send this morning was like watching your child get out of the car in front of the school. Time for little One Hen to make her own way now…

Now, on to preparing for the defense. Only 13 days to go, and there is no time to rest. I am heading to campus today to watch my friend Selena defend her dissertation since I’ve never seen one done.  Best of luck to her! I bet at the point of the defense, she feels like her dissertation project is like sending her kid off to college. You might be a little sad, but mostly you just want him out of the house so you can enjoy yourself.

Desperate Measures

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When I envisioned how these last few days would go before handing in the dissertation to the committee, I envisioned making last minute line-edits, and taking my time to get formatting perfect, and reading and re-reading the entire document over the course of a week.

Well…the reality…not quite.

This last week has been a bit hectic. I am making significant content revisions to my Chapter 6 and 1, not to mention making some important edits to the rest of everything else. This week, the time has come for some serious desperate measures. Here is a list of things I have done this week that truly signify grad-student-deadline-desperation:

1. Instead of re-working a sentence like Anne-Lise suggests, sometimes I just delete it. Especially if it’s taking me more than 10 minutes to figure out how to re-work. I think, “Eh, do I really LOVE this sentence? No. Then forget it.”

2.  I am citing 8 different articles/books written or co-written by Jere Brophy and Janet Alleman. This sometimes means that I forget which one I pulled which idea/quote from. I also discovered that one claim I wrote in my lit review I had attributed to a 1993 article of theirs. When I went to add more, I realized that it’s the wrong citation. So then I had to search through all 8 articles/books to find it desperately. I can’t half-ass that one since Anne-Lise has worked so closely with both of those researchers that if I use the wrong word, she notices. 🙂 Guess what I ended up doing when I couldn’t find the right citation? That’s right! DELETE!

3. I am so fed up with APA citations that I found myself Googling:  “How do I cite the Common Core Standards?” Yes, I am now so sick of the APA manual I am just asking Google to do it for me.

4. I never thought I would do this, but I am now citing articles  I have read one sentence of (or sometimes less). We’re at the point that if the abstract looks good, and I can find a key sentence that I need, it’s going in there.

5. I only just recently put the entire dissertation into one document and that’s so that Mike could read it. Yes, I am so desperate that my hubby is making edits for me. That is, if he can make it through all 220 pages without falling asleep.

My goal is to hand this thing in to the committee on Tuesday. When I finally hit send on that bad boy, it’s going to be so glorious. However, it’s not going to be without some hard work tomorrow and Monday night. As if this wasn’t enough, I also have a job interview tomorrow at Grand Valley–the only university on the west side of the state that has invited me to campus. So this is big, but it hasn’t even been on my radar. THAT is desperate.

Polishing the Turd Into a Diamond

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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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