Monday, September 8, 2008

How did that happen?

A couple of weeks ago I divided my dissertation into two parts because having the large file open on my laptop kept causing it to crash. I've been focusing on revising Chapter 5, Results and Discussion for a week, improving it before Dr. Advisor had a chance to read the old version and summarily dismiss me from the program.

Finishing Chapter 5 (~65 pages) on Sunday morning before church felt really really good and I made a point to send it to Dr. Advisor at 9:30 so he'd know I was up and working as much as I could.

Yesterday afternoon and today I wrote a four page Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Work chapter that I'm really hoping at least approaches what it is supposed to be because after Googling "science dissertation conclusion chapter" and finding nothing useful I winged it and used a sort of hybrid format between my last publication, Dr. Advisor's thesis, and my own imagination.

Once in undergrad I stayed up nearly all night to finish a Heat Transfer final project and at three o'clock in the morning I declared it to be a work of genius and went to bed. The next day when I proofed it right before I had to turn it in I found that not only was it not genius, it was barely written in English (I got an A. It was a miracle). I am hoping that I won't have the same experience with this chapter. Especially because I sent it off to Dr. Advisor this afternoon.

Which means that Dr. Advisor has a COMPLETE FIRST DRAFT (the one I sent a few weeks ago, we both understood, was more of a draft to the first draft, thus my ambivalence about sending it to him. Ambivalent, of course, except for the panicking). Somebody hold me.

So anyway, it was still divided into pieces, so I was hazy on the actual page count. After I sent off the last chapter, I put the two halves back into one Word document and SHAZZAM, 120 pages! So that's like fifteen-ish pages in a WEEK? Thank goodness for figures, is all I have to say. Big, beautiful, half-page figures.

Apparently I work best with very concrete deadlines. Charlie's induction nudged me into completing my qualifying exam. And while my fellowship running out was not enough of a kick in the pants, the impending birth of our second child was just the thing I needed to get me over the hump, so to speak.

I was very surprised to learn that the first draft was done. I will spend my time now outlining my defense presentation (deep breaths) so it'll be ready to go post-Bravo. Trying to defend in the first three weeks of Bravo's life is more than I want to put my family through, but maybe I can sneak something in between that and the six week growth spurt, or at least before Charlie's first day of kindergarten. Or law school. Whatever.

For now I just have to wait for Hurricane Ike to make landfall to hear from Dr. Advisor.

I can has Cheerios?
"I have to forage for my own food while my mom finishes her dissertation."


AJU5's Mom said...

Congratulations! Deadlines worked for me too. Now Ike, please make landfall so Becca can hear "good job" from Dr. Advisor!

Anonymous said...

I knew you could do it. I'm impressed. The hardest part is done now. GP

Anonymous said...

Yay! My worst experience was the first time I read my thesis through in one sitting. I can't believe how much nonsense was there, but fortunately I managed to fix it before my entire committee had a chance to read it.

Kyla said...

Charlie is SO CUTE!!

Great job on cranking it out. That is impressive!

Darn Ike. I might be in your neck of the woods this weekend if he keeps coming right for us.

Marianne said...

That's so awesome, Becca!!

The Targo is supposed to defend in late November or early December; so, I'm sure he's about to kick it into high gear. of course, it's verra verra hard with a lazy schmuck for a wife.

As for mine, everyone has me just about talked into quitting. Sad, I know.

But ahem ... Am. So. Excited. For. You!

Anonymous said...

Hurray for first draft- congrats on hitting a HUGE milestone!

I think the longest paper I've written in my entire academic life, including my master's degree, was maybe 20 pages (and that's including bibliographies and such).

You continue to be my heroine.

Sarah said...

That's freaking awesome!!!!!

Nothing like a giant, growing deadline-- Jack did wonders for me :)

Anonymous said...

See how his poor widdle fingers are so sore and swollen from having to toil the fields and harvest his own crops so that he can make a pitiful soup from whatever will grow in this harsh Texas soil? So tired, so defeated so--hey---is that a box of Cheerios I see? Never mind! He'll be fine as long as you've got milk.