Today marks the beginning of the second week of my thesis.
The first week didn’t feel that much different from any other first week of a course. If anything, it felt more relaxed. I only had to post twice in an online journal, which only my advisor could view. The thesis’ course calendar looks sparse if I compare it to that of past courses/workshops. Only a few dates are circled in October and November, respectively, as halfway points to check in. And that’s when I realized the nature of the trap that yawns before me like a deadfall.
It’s not like the course description is misleading – far from it. According to Lindenwood’s Thesis Guidelines, “The final three credit hours of the MFA program are devoted to completion of a graduate thesis, a final writing project that the student produces independently, with midterm feedback from an assigned faculty thesis reader.”
The trap that I speak of is believing the illusion that because this is a self-paced project, that pace is slow, and steady. Maybe even relaxed.
No. No no, no.
It took me about an hour to compile a list of my work created during the program. Up to 50% of the 70-100 pages of my thesis may be devoted to pieces such as these, previously workshopped and critiqued by my peers, and in the coming weeks I will be spending a good chunk of time revising them with those edits in mind. But the majority of my thesis will comprise of the manuscript for my novel, Infernal. Over the past five years or so, I’ve written quite a bit for this one idea, but it wasn’t until I organized existing chapters chronologically in an Excel spreadsheet that I realized the implications of the goal I’ve set for myself.
I have 20+ chapters, in varying states of “completion”. On the one hand, this is great news for my thesis, as it shows I have a good start on my material. On the other, however, it is rather disheartening – maybe even pathetic – that in five years, give or take, I’ve only penned enough material for 20+ chapters. And if Infernal was a river, these chapters are scattered about like so many stones, none of them close enough to each other to serve as a bridge to the other side.
I only have 62 days to construct that bridge. Maybe now is the time to panic.
So, while organization has never been my strongest suit, I have decided to make it routine to blog about my progress in the hopes that doing so will keep me on track. (And with NaNoWriMo coming up, my efforts can only double. Theoretically.) Posts will more than likely be of a frustrated, histrionic nature, but hopefully, one or two of them will rejoice in that ever elusive creature that all authors strive to catch: the breakthrough.