I’m thankful that…

…my thesis is (almost) done. Today is Thanksgiving and I guess a pretty good day to give a thesis update for all of you who were anxiously waiting for it (umm….is this anyone? No clue).

I finished my thesis two weeks ago today. Or I should say, I finished writing it the first time. Heh…

I had one and a half heady days of celebration. And then my chair emailed me back. Oh boy….

In her words, “Your thesis needs extensive revision.”

As my defense was on Monday (and I received this email on Saturday morning) I knew I had some frantic editing to do. I spent 7 hours revision chapter one (that’s right, just one chapter) on Saturday and in the process, cut out 9 pages (the original chapter was 42 pages).

The next day I spent 5 hours on chapter two.

Monday = defense day. From 7:30-12pm I worked on editing and revising chapter three and at 12:30 I had my defense.

A thesis defense is basically a meeting where the student (aka me) talks about her thesis to her committee members (I had three). We all met at the beginning and then they sent me out so they could decide what they wanted to do. Then they called me back in and I spoke for about 10-15 minutes about why I wanted to write about my topic and what I learned through the process. Then each committee member asked me questions and shared their observations about my thesis. My chair, especially asked me some really tough questions (“In today’s postmodern, primarily amoral society, why do you think people are still drawn to Austen’s novels considering the values she promotes in her fiction?” and “If you were to expand on your ideas for a PhD dissertation, what would you write about?”) but she seemed impressed with my answers. After the question time they sent me out again and talked for a while. When I came back in, my chair said she wanted everyone to go around and praise me for the good work I.

Some of the most memorable compliments were:
Are you going to go for your PhD?
You definitely have some publishable and conference (Professional academic conferences) worthy writing here.
After three hundred years of Austen criticism, it is tough to find something new to say about her works–but you did it.
You integrated professional criticism with your own analysis very well.
Very creative!
I really enjoyed your writing.

They all knew that I had to finish my revisions but we ended on the fact that I would be approved and then the defense was over.

However, my work was not over.

I finished my revisions for chapter four and my conclusion that evening and sent them to my chair, Dr. Ayres and felt like I was really done now.

Nope.

On Tuesday morning I checked my email as I was getting the boys ready for school and found another long message about revisions again. I still had major things to change in chapter one, even though I had spent hours and hours on it on Saturday. And she didn’t even read chapters 2 and 3 because on first perusal, she found a lot of mistakes (left out works, grammatical, mechanical, etc).

I snapped. I felt so overwhelmed, like I would never be done with this project and it would never be good enough. I spent the whole morning crying off and on and fighting depression. I was a horrible mom that morning and actually felt relieved when I dropped the boys off at school. And then I felt guilty for being relieved.

I had reading, a 1-2 page response, and the first 5 pages of a term paper due in my Shakespeare class that afternoon. Not happening. Not when your chair tells you she wants all revisions done by Thursday.

After more tears, much prayer, and a severe mental pep-talk, I pulled up my big girl panties and got back to work. I spent all morning and afternoon reading chapters 2-4 out loud (70+ pages) in order to catch my mistakes. And…um…there were quite a few that I had missed, simply from just looking at the darn thing so. many. times.

I went to Shakespeare still feeling the emotional weight of the day, and feeling guilty for not getting my work done (though I had emailed my professor and let him know what was going on).

Twenty minutes into class, I get a call from the preschool: Micah had a 101.5 fever. So, I checked out of class, again bouncing between feelings of relief and guilt.

My poor baby was so pitiful and looked like he felt so bad. And as soon as we pulled up the the house, he threw up in the car. (I’ll just let you imagine the hours that followed, though Micah actually was feeling better later that night).

That evening, after the boys went to bed, I started revising chapter one A.G.A.I.N. I sent everything back to Dr. Ayres that evening and crashed into bed.

Wednesday: Another email–Minor revision left. I do them. I send it back, AGAIN. I felt hopeful though because at the end of her email she said that after I made the changes I should send it to the rest of my committee.

It is now a week and one day later. I have heard back from everyone on my committee and only have to make some minor changes to my abstract (which I will try to post on here in the next few days for those of you who are interested in what has consumed my life for the past year).

So, needless to say, I am very thankful the thesis process is almost over. I am meeting with Dr. Ayres on Nov. 30th to go over everything again and then I have to publish my thesis in an online professional database. Then it will be done. Finis. The End.

Thank God.

Happy Thanksgiving!