The Quick(ish) Descent to Thesis Insanity: Game On

Friends, I’m not exactly well.

I’m reaching the critical thesis crunch time and I am NOT in good  
shape. My advisor, having read a second draft of the ms, has informed  
me that the book needs “serious work” and she needs me to “work very  
very very hard” for my thesis to “matter”, I have an ending that  
doesn’t–on its face– make any sense, and several of my chapters  
have the gaunt post- Castle Greyskull Skeletor look: just really the  
bones, a blue body and some purple makeup.

Today is March 18.
I need to turn in a copy of my thesis on April 10.
I can’t do math but that seems like it’s at the most three days from  
now.
I am (almost) officially freaking out.

So I find this a good time to start the official My Quick(ish)  
Descent to Thesis Insanity portion of my blog. From now until the  
manuscript is in the hands of whomever controls the graduate student  
office (or wherever we turn this in… crap, why don’t i know  
this??!) I will be offering a deep, insightful dive into a place no  
one wants to go: the mind of an MFA student about to turn in and then  
defend a thesis that he’s not entirely confident about to a group of  
professors also not entirely sold on said student. If that doesn’t  
sound like a non-stop fun rollercoaster or at least Thunder Mountain,  
then I’m afraid you’re probably being logical.

Everything else, at this point, seems like it will take too long.  
Working on anything outside the thesis, going to the gym to wail on  
various parts of my body
, text messaging, using emoticons or the  
restroom– all of these things would take too much time away from my  
characters, especially the one I’ve almost entirely based on Ramsey.  
And while I have no problem doing it to Ramsey, I can’t let Ramsey’s  
pseudo character down.  I need a creativity IV, some sort of diaper  
system, and at least three hippies worth of granola if I’m going to  
make it this three week period without losing myself in the  
(insanity) music. I assume this will involve whiskey.

Anyway, this will be the channel I’m playing on until our April 10th  
deadline. As we get closer to the TD (thesis drop) day, blogs might  
get more frequent or deleted by my editor, depending on my coherency.  
But there will be at least two a week. And some pop culture. And lots  
and lots of the music of 1998 to guide us home.

And for those of you who want nothing to do with the QDTI, fear not–  
like most of the relationships on Saved by the Bell– this portion of  
my blog will only last three(ish) weeks.

I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve. I have a history of  
taking off my shirt.

One (to Three) Week(s),

Barenaked Ladies

ps- Oh yeah. We’ve switched the address of the site on the Interweb.  
It’s now at blog.writersdigest.com/writerslife/ You can still get to  
it from the old address, but why make it harder on your computer?  
Please adjust your Internets accordingly.

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13 thoughts on “The Quick(ish) Descent to Thesis Insanity: Game On

  1. Kristan C.

    The Bridges OF Madison County was lousy with grammatical errors as well, Genevieve, if I recall correctly, so you’re in good company.

    Or maybe it was just sheer lousiness… I get them mixed up sometimes.

  2. Leigh Ann

    The thesis was an analytical one, not creative writing, so he wasn’t really questioning art so much as my scholarly lack of purpose … or something like that. But I’ll give you his name and you can call and chew him out anyway, if you want, just for good measure. 😉

  3. Genevieve

    And by Bridges Over Madison County, I of course meant Bridges OF Madison County. I’m a product of the Louisiana school system, man, I’m lousy with grammatical errors.

  4. Genevieve

    "Why does this matter?" Are you serious? Did a professor of creative writing actually say that? Ok, well what does Beowulf matter? What does Bridges Over Madison County matter? I mean, how many stories are out there that involve infidelity? How many more kids’ books can there be about a dog that matter? You can come up with answers for that, but the truth AND the common factor is that all the answers are subjective. When I was a kid I read a book called Hans Clodhopper, which is probably out of print now. It wasn’t a work of brilliance, but it was funny and it was the first book I read cover to cover with no help. I remember it (and still have it) because it mattered to ME.

    You know what I think? Professors, editors, and (oh yes) readers can critique my work, and they should, but if they ever EVER ask me why I wrote it or why it matters I’m going to ask them why they matter. There are lots of English professors out there. Do we really need more? There are probably as many editors out there as there are children’s books about dogs. And readers? I could step outside right now and point to five of them, they’re a dime a dozen. Every one of them is creation just like any other on this planet, and if they can all come up with any answers they want for that question but they will all have one thing in common-subjectivity.

    Sorry. I’m rather sensitive when it comes to discussions about the significance of any art. I will put my soap box back under the bed now and eat Oreos.

  5. Tom

    Kim has really lit the first of, um, regret and moroseness here, and I think that’s…a thing. What I really want to say, though, is that I’m with Kim – you can do it! You CAN eat an entire package of Oreos washed down with icy-cold milk direct from the carton in one sitting! It’s a little-known fact that Hemingway used to do the same thing. He felt so leaden after the fact that he was forced to sit still for eight hours afterward and actually write.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying my paypal payment. I was going to buy you a massive gift certificate to the hippie coffee joint you frequent, but I couldn’t remember the name of it.

  6. Leigh Ann

    I feel your pain! Granted, an undergrad thesis on children’s literature isn’t quite the same thing, but man, that part of my life was so painful I’ve all but blocked it out. 🙂

    My advisor’s main note, as I remember it, was along the lines of, "Why does this matter?" I didn’t know why the heck it mattered! It didn’t! Nothing in my thesis applied to the real world or was going to cause any kind of academic wave, ripple, splash, drop … I never could figure out how to edit that dern thing.

    Ah, well. I must say, in my life in the real world, the thesis has, in fact, never mattered … as far as I know. Then again, what if I HAD written a mind-bogglingly brilliant thesis? Maybe I’d be a millionaire by now. Oh, curses. I have ruined my life.

    Well, good luck to you. Hope you don’t end up going down the same hopeless spiral of an awful poopy meaninglessness as I.

    Sigh.

    😉

  7. Kim

    Dude,
    Chill. You’ll be fine. Everything will work out. That last-minute frenzy and possible self-loathing you’re experiencing is just a remarkably productive period disguising itself as anguish. Go with it. Live in the moment. Remember to breathe deeply. Or just to breathe. Skip the granola, and serve yourself an entire package of Oreos washed down with icy-cold milk. Direct from the carton. In one sitting. You can do it, man!!!

  8. Kevin Alexander

    All,
    Your advice, notes, He-Man links via youtube and monetary contributions to my paypal account have warmed my heart/bank account. Seriously. I’m going a little crazy, but with a support group like you guys and several handfuls of granola, I will (probably) pull through. So thanks, friends.
    (Single tear)

    (I think this is the point where I’m supposed to initiate some sort of awkward half-hug-half-handdshake)
    I’ll holler via blogging tomorrow.

  9. Mindy

    Good luck, man. In stressful situations like these (and this is where I should admit I didn’t even finish my undergrad work, probably because of situations like these) I try to remind myself that while I want to rip my hair out now, it’ll be over before I know it. So breathe deep, keep on keeping on, and remember that in four(ish) weeks it will all be the past.

  10. Tom

    I’m weighing in with Gevevieve on this one once again: the Saved By the Bell joke was great, and I, too, never watched the show. I think if a joke succeeds without the necessity of more than cursory background knowledge of the subject, it’s good stuff.

    I do hate to see The Kev in a less-than mood (makes it much harder for me to get through the workday, which has already put me in the same mood by the time your blogs post). However, seeing as how it’s wrong to take without giving back, I’m offering you my full support here. You’re in the sweet spot. The rewrite. We all know that the first draft is where the crap hits the page. The magic all happens in the rewrite, and you’re totally going to nail this thing to the wall, even if you do run out of granola! I mean, look, man, you didn’t even TRY to get the column in WD. This is something you’re putting all your effort into. I imagine that, applying your full energy to the project, you will produce something really great, and we’re all going to be reading about it here in another three(ish) weeks.

    Fight the good fight (and here is the point where I’d add a hyperlink to Triumph rocking it Canadian-style on Youtube if I could).

  11. Kristan C.

    What she said! (I doubt there is any sort of tone coming from me as I’ve had exactly two sips of coffee so far. I am all monotone before a half-cup.) Seriously, you will do FINE, even if April 10 is only 2 days away.

    Man, Thunder Mountain is fun.

    1998 was not so fun, though, and I am looking forward to the new year. Oh wait, 1999 kind of really sucked too. Nebbermind.

    P.S. Is changing the URL going to stop Feedblitz from sending me a "Rate this blog!" practically email every other day? I’ve done that, and I thought they would stop…

  12. Genevieve

    You are so funny,dude."like most of the relationships on Saved by the Bell– this portion of my blog will only last three(ish) weeks" I didn’t even like Saved By the Bell, and I thought that was funny.

    You’ll get through it, Kevin. Your editors wouldn’t let you post if you weren’t a talented, promising writer, and you’re going to totally kick some phD butt come April 10th. (please forgive the slightly parental tone of this commentary – my little ones are in frequent need of encouragement at their young ages so I’m used to dishing it out)

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