Yesterday evening I made my last revision note on page 404 of my dissertation “Pondering his voyage”: The Popular and Folkloric Origins of the English Devil from the Anglo-Saxons Up Through Paradise Lost.
Here were my final feelings:
- The introduction is good.
- Chapter one needed some work. Originally I had at the center of my argument contrasting monstrosity and the English folkloric devil using monster theory. That at first the overlap between devil and monster is unclear but as English national identity evolves, the devil separates and becomes a stand in for "not us" something the English can define themselves against. But I had a note to cut. So a lot of this is gone. It's a piece I've identified to revisit for the transition to book.
- Chapter two focuses on physical attributes and chapter three on personality and actions. There's some overlap here so it was a judgement call on where some things went. I had a note to move some major things and I split the difference. Chapter three more than chapter two needed not revision but overhaul. Which brings me to my fear about all this. I had a complete (crappy) draft in August. A second draft by 31 December. So this is the third draft. Chapter one was a seminar paper so it's seen more drafts. Chapter six was also a class paper so it's seen like seven additional drafts. BUT for the rest I don't feel so much that each draft has been revised so much as completely overhauled. Which is fine. Certainly that first draft needed it, it was awful. But it also means that I feel a little nervous about this being the final revision, as particularly with chapter three I once again had to overhaul it versus refining and tweaking what I have. This makes me VERY nervous.
- Chapter four needed some organizational swapping, but I feel good about it as it was minor flow issues. In fact the second half of the dissertation as a whole feels better than the first half. But this is balanced because I had detailed notes on CH 1-3 to use in revision and none on CH 4-6 so again I'm a little nervous about this.
- Chapter five went well with revision going pretty quickly.
- Chapter six went slow. But I think this is because it's been through so many drafts that at this point it's the only chapter I'm completely over.
- My conclusion isn't very long but I've been told that's pretty normal.
A little more than a month ago I wrote the general revision notes from my director on the board as well as my schedule. I managed to fix these edits as I went. I had a ridiculous number of useless commas. I told people they "must" a lot. I deleted every "then." I had a lot of run on sentences that got cut up and made clearer.
All in all I feel good about the state of the dissertation.
But I've felt good about all the drafts :-/
I know, I know, a good dissertation is a done dissertation and I'm almost there.
A few weeks ago on Twitter there was a conversation about stressing about the dissertation. It centered around advice someone had gotten and it made the rounds a few times. It wasn't advice to me, but I have clung to it.
Now this is funny. It's funny because I want it to be true. It's funny because I want to cuddle this thought at night when I'm terrified I won't pass. It's funny because it's a beacon of hope. It's funny because I'm not the only one and this is comforting.
So I keep returning to this again and again.
Because there's no time for major issues at this point. I'll turn the dissertation as a single document, this preliminary final draft, in to my director (and offer to other committee members if they want it) by M 4 April. At that time I'll also send it to my university's rep to check for formatting.
Then I get a month off.
A month to just work my full time job and sleep.
My director said by the beginning of May I'd have any last looks notes to then fix by 15 May when I need to send the final-final draft to everyone for my 17 June defense. I'm hoping that if there are notes they are small, minor, infinitesimal because, well, I just can't afford to have them be anything else at that point.
- I handwrite all my revision notes, doing all the heavy lifting work wise. But I now need to type all of these notes up. In past revisions it's taken me about half a day to type up a chapter. I have six chapters, so I'm aiming by Thursday to be finished typing it all up.
- The good thing is because I've already done the "work" this is time consuming but pretty mindless.
- I got unexpected notes on a chapter, a couple of weeks ago so I need to check that I've addressed those. I'm just checking content though at this point, that it's accurate, not other notes as I'm pretty sure two drafts later I've hit those.
- I then have a couple of notes of items to move to the bibliography, and to double check that I've cited my primary works.
- It and my pamphlet appendix are 124 pages long so this is not a short job but again, it's relatively minor.
- Then I need to spell and grammar check the whole document (always fun with so many Old English and Middle English translations).
- Because I'm in my Word One Doc at this point formatting is all done which is good. The bad news is when I was working in Google Docs it was easy to move things because I just opened it in multiple tabs. So the cutting and pasting in chapters two and three may take a while.
- I have a handful of books that I need to insert in footnotes
- I woke up today to the nasty YOU'VE BEEN BANNED FROM ILL email. I have a couple of overdue books (because I needed to wait to add them to footnotes and they're TWO DAYS overdue ILL, chill!). I'm not worried, I have to run errands tomorrow and I'll drop them off. So they can stop with the death notes.
One of my errands tomorrow is to pick up my graduation gear despite the fact that I'm not attending graduation (shut up, I EARNED that Harry Potter outfit).
The coloring seems appropriate given my dissertation.
So I am almost there.
I just need to get through this week.
So if you have any good juju to send me, feel free to pass it along...