Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#DevilDiss has a Defense Date

Yesterday I had a check in meeting with my dissertation director.
We talked about round 3 revision notes on the introduction, CH 1-3, and the conclusion. We talked generalities, and all in all they were positive (at one point "stellar" was used :-). I should have the annotated files this week. We also talked about next steps, but most importantly, we set my defense date.
This is totally how that felt too (on the inside).

I treated myself to Subway for lunch to celebrate.

Then once I got home it was work time. I revised my #DevilDiss timeline. My director said that the next step should be me going through the entire dissertation and line editing, making notes, cutting, making the prose more concise. They said that with the state of CH 4-6 the last time they looked, I could just move onto this next step, working with the dissertation as a whole.

In some ways this is an extension of the shift in how I approached the round three revisions, that I was finally thinking of the dissertation as a whole project rather than just a series of chapters.  I started some of this work in the last round of revision (introduction, CH 1-3, conclusion) making sure I was pulling the threads together. For me too, part of this process was compiling the dissertation One Doc. I attended a UNM dissertation workshop last year, which was really helpful because it told me how to format the doc, talked about the front matter, all that good stuff. This was helpful to have BEFORE writing the dissertation for little things like knowing they require 1.5 inch margins (which is silly because we don't bind them anymore, but whatever) to more complicated stuff like the weird numbering of front matter.  All that prep work means that I don't have to worry about that stuff. At this point I've copied and pasted CH 4-6 onto the doc, as well as the master bibliography. Once I get the intro, CH 1-3, and conclusion this week with notes I'll copy and paste those into the One Doc and then print it all out and start going through it line by line.

So this is all the good.

Now, the work.
My director did say that the draft as it is now had a lot of errors. They said they hadn't minded up to now because they were more concerned about me getting the big ideas addressed. But now was the time when I needed to go through the entire draft and fix  the errors.
  • Start weeding out, cutting, making the prose more concise. 
  • Cut the repetitions, make decisions about which chapter made the argument best, that kind of thing. Looking at the whole document at once should make this easier to identify. 
  • I also have issues with commas.
My director also said that this would make it easier for the rest of committee members to "see" my argument.

I will also readily admit that this stage terrifies me.
Part of it is because with all the moving around in middle and high school I always missed direct grammar instruction, so I have a thing about this. Despite the fact that I obviously CAN do this, have published articles and book chapters, I still feel inferior about this. And frankly, academia doesn't help this. As we've all experienced, that single editor who tells us that our writing is awful, that we have no right writing about X sticks with us much more than the colleagues that support us, or the publications we get.

So I am super nervous about this.
In particular I am terrified this will be the answer:
 Or worse, this.

I know that this is something I just need to face, and get over.
I KNOW I can write, I have the publications to prove it. 
I also know that as soon as I sit down and start working I will feel better, or at least, will be able to ignore the little voice that says this:
But I admit to being nervous about this next step. And I recognize in part that I'm nervous because this is one of the final steps, so a lot is riding on this. Now that being said, while my director said there were errors to be fixed they didn't frame any of this like they didn't have faith I would get it done. So this is just my own stuff.

To focus on the positive, this morning I sent the email to my entire committee about confirming the defense date, asking about nailing down a time, and told them there will be a preliminary final in April, with them having final drafts by 15 May for a 15 June defense. I also asked what, if anything, they'd want to read of the preliminary final in April. The dissertation is long, currently 450+ pages. So some may not want to read the whole thing twice. Or maybe they'll just want to read some targeted chapters of the preliminary.
I've already heard from two out of the three other committee members, and it looks like the defense date is confirmed, so I won't feel like this, so yeah!
I've gone through my planner and laid out when I need to have certain chapters done. This Friday I'll print out the whole weighty tome, take it to the copy center so they can bind it so it's easier to manage, and then next week I will start the line editing, revising.
Yesterday seemed to be a fated day as it was also the day that my tam came. My sister has taken it upon herself to get me my doctoral regalia in pieces, so its arrival was fortuitous. And it made me giggle.
Until I get to wear it BOB here will keep it safe.
And it will be my reminder the next couple of months (which I know will fly by) that I can do this. That I need to remember while the next couple of months are work, serious work, compared to what I've accomplished the last three years, it's manageable work.
I can do this.
Any advice about how you got through the final push of the dissertation?

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