I have what is known as a ‘first full draft’ of my thesis, which is an accomplishment in itself, but I certainly didn’t feel very ‘accomplished’ at the time of handing it in to my supervisors last December. It wasn’t a thesis, but more a collection of chapters, full of conceptual holes and in desperate need of a proofread! So far, I’m about 3/4 of the way there with my word count and I feel about 1/ 3 of the way in terms of my thinking. This month I’ve found myself going back to each chapter and making changes (e.g. deleting sections here, editing the wording in this paragraph, re-inserting the sections I had previously deleted) repeating the process again. It’s painfully slow and frustrating at times because I feel like that I should be making more progress. Or that I should be writing more. Or working faster. Or I should be further now…etc.etc. and etc.
I’ve had to stop and take a step back from my wretched pit of academic insecurity and remind myself that at this point, it’s not about how many words I can put on the page but rather a methodical plod towards really understanding my thesis. It seems terrible that I don’t really understand my own thesis, but it’s true. I’m trying to cut through my conceptual clutter and work on clarifying the central ideas. It sort of feels like I’m sewing an intricate shirt without having a visual reference. I have an idea of what the end product is suppose to resemble. I have chosen all the materials I need for it, created a pattern guide to cut the pieces of the fabric, cut the fabric and sewn the pieces together but it doesn’t quite look like what I had envisioned (e.g. see image of “Morning Coat”).
So now, I’m currently working on simplifying the main points of my thesis without making them simple. In other words, I’m making a ‘visual reference’ for my metaphorical shirt so I can start sewing the pieces together more efficiently. I have the tendency to focus on the details so this is quite the challenge for me!