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thesis brain is a tattered brain.

November 17, 2010

i’m sitting in the TA office right now, my leather boots shucked off and thrown across the room to the side and my hair literally sticking up straight. it’s one of those piss-rainy days in vancouver – the kind where you wore the wrong shoes out and where people’s umbrellas are coming precariously close to stabbing you in the pupil and the bus smells like a goddamned barnyard and people are snotting on you. (gross-ass people.)

i’m just cranky because i have thesis brain. i’m out of sorts. i’m losing things, which is something that i just don’t do. i’m kind of an anal-retentive person sometimes. i have spots for things, pockets for things. yesterday i left my ipod – which i have had for years and years – in the BIGGEST CLASSROOM in the geography building. i put it down on a desk and didn’t pick it up again. and over the span of the night, it disappeared. this is something that i just don’t do. i’ve never lost a cell phone or an ipod or a laptop or anything remotely expensive or technological. one time i lost my debit card and my ID in a snowbank in kingston, but that is all. and i lost them because i was drunk, and i wanted pizza, i think. fair enough. pizza trumps all sanity.

i’m a thesis-wreck!

a background: my thesis is not an essay. sometimes i kind of wish that it was. in my english heyday at queen’s u, i could pound out an essay in a few hours. a fairly good essay, too. there is a rhythm to an essay writing, a cadence that is easy and predictable. there was always something soothing in research, concrete research, and in citations.

my thesis is a novel! in the UBC MFA program for creative writing, your thesis is a full-length work of publishable quality. since i’m (i think) in fiction (who knows), my thesis needs to be a book-length collection of short stories, or a novel. and i always knew it was going to be a novel, i just didn’t want to think about. but now i need to think about it.

more background: i had the bones of it done. my thesis idea was spawned from a short story that i wrote in undergrad, that i expanded to about 30 pages, and that i decided to re-do for my thesis – same idea, same sort of plot, but with a whole lot more work put into it. and then i went to ireland over the summer holidays. it was the best trip, trip of a lifetime – i went by myself because i couldnt find anyone to go with (as one of the airport security guards pointed out to me – asshat.) and i had the best time. and i did a lot of first hand research – i was even interviewed on the radio. and i restarted the entire thing. i saved a few paragraphs, but not much. i switched the story from 1st person to 3rd person – and then went back to 1st person, and am now writing it in 3rd person, finally. i added a new character. i started to write the thing from both characters points of view, instead of just from the main female character’s point of view.

one of my pictures from ireland - in donegal. they are fishing off the dock.

the point of that above monologue was that i basically have to write a first draft of a novel (albeit a short one, maybe around 60 000 words) by … well, there are no real deadlines set, but i would like to graduate by august of 2011, so getting a full first draft to my thesis advisor by december sounds good to me. and i’d like to get a paper copy to him, and i go home on the 7th, so i’m giving myself the deadline of the 4th.

NaNoWriMo? i was asked if i was going to be doing NaNoWriMo, which is national novel writing month. i laughed my head off, because i am already doing that. i have to essentially Wri my whole No in this Mo, or i’ll just never get it done.

and the point of that above rant was to explain why i’m writing this post. this post is an apology and explanation. i’m sorry for being a scatter-brained dolt right now. i’m sorry if i haven’t been the best of friends, if i have forgotten to reply to an email or a message or a wallpost or a phone call. i’m sorry if i’ve been dismissive or weird or intense or manic or whatever. i’ve written 10 000 words in the last week – this is not to boast, but to give a context, a look into my world right now. and 10 000 words doesn’t really seem like a lot, but a novel is so amorphous sometimes. i’m totally in charge of the plot, and the characters, and how everything is going to go. there is no paragraph outline, no specific ways to cite. i never thought i’d say this, but i miss the essay rubric! it’s very humbling and very scary and very empowering, all at the same time, to be able to say that you are entirely in charge of a project like this. and so 10 000 words of a novel are 10 000 words of your own, and one day i think they are beautiful, so beautiful, and the next day i think i’ve written the biggest pile of crud ever. so those 10 000 words are not set in stone, but getting them out and on the page was awfully hard.

so i’m a thesis wreck. let me explain what that entails – for me. i’m getting caught up on things i normally wouldn’t get caught up on, and ignoring things i normally wouldn’t ignore. i’m mulling over ideas that i wouldn’t normally think of, or work so hard on. i become intense in discussions to the point of mania, sometimes. i have mood swings. and my sleep patterns are a bit off. and i dream about very vivid things, and sometimes i wake up crying. (but they aren’t things related to my thesis, which is the oddest part.) there are days when i refuse to leave the apartment. i went all last weekend without going outside, which is not entirely healthy. i’m liking some people more than others right now, just because of the mindset i’m in. i’m distracting myself from my thesis by writing some of the most emotive poetry i’ve ever written – and the poetry i do write is so completely opposite from what i normally write, from what i write about in fiction. i’m reading a lot. i’m trying to harass my friends into talking about what i read, maybe because i miss that logical argumentative essay style. i’m obviously absent-minded. i’ve come to campus a few times without brushing my hair, which doesn’t really bother me but just looks kind of hilarious, gorgonite. there are clothes all over my apartment. and i killed an amaryllis i was given recently because i forgot to take care of it. thank god i don’t have a hamster. or a fish. and it’s a REAL good thing that i’m single right now, because if i killed my amaryllis, i can’t imagine what i would do to another human being.

well, that’s about all i have to say today. i’m also submitting a play to a festival tomorrow, and i have a little poetry portfolio to think about soon. just because i am writing my thesis doesn’t mean the rest of my writing world stops.

so my apologies for being a maniac, and i would love to hear how the rest of you are coping with your THESIS INSANITY.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 4:59 pm

    “i switched the story from 1st person to 3rd person – and then went back to 1st person, and am now writing it in 3rd person, finally.”
    I know exactly how you feel! It’s mania. GO TEAM GO. I have total faith in you and your writing!

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