Dissertation Days #3

Dissertation 1

This is the final one of these. By the end of today, it will have been submitted. That is a terrifying thought. But I am also really excited to finally hit submit and know that is something out of the way. I have no idea what sort of mark I am working at, but I do know I feel like it is the best thing I have written in regards to a creative piece and that alone is enough to make me smile.

Over the last month, it has been a lot of tweaks. Odd words here and there. A sentence changed for more impact. I had to try and get more description present, but through the eyes of my protagonist – it had to be things that he would notice. It was not easy, and there were many occasions where I sat with my head in my hands literally trying to visualise what it was I thought he would see.

Breaking away from it for a few days before returning to read has been an interesting experience. I thought I had checked through it closely before, then only on the last reading I found four “needs” in two sentences. Stopping thinking about it can really then clear your mind when you come back to it. I just hope today’s checks throw up any other problems that might have slipped under the net and remained invisible up until now.

Dissertation 2

Some of the fun has been lost recently while working on the critical essay. However, a lot of it is about the progress, albeit disguised under different headings. It’s been interesting to write because it’s forced me to consider some of the obstacles that I’ve been up against and what I have done to overcome them. The fact that I’m writing the essay proves that I have overcome them, and that in itself is a great feeling. There were a few issues with the essay lacking focus, but I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. My first drafts are often unfocused while I’m working out what it is I’m trying to say.

Although I have had great fun working on this, now it comes down to it, I’m worried. Creative writing is so hard to score a higher mark on – I’ve always done better on the essays. And this mark counts twice. Needless to say, it’s nerve-racking to think that this could determine what grade I graduate with. Today is going to be full of checks to make sure I haven’t done anything stupid in it that could cost me marks. Other than that, I think it is just a matter of knowing I have worked hard at it and – as my mother would say – done the best I could. With handing this in, it certainly makes it feel like university is coming to an end – by this time in two weeks, it will all be over which is definitely a scary thought.

Right, back to work for me then…Let’s get this submitted!


Dissertation Days #2

Dissertation 1

I can’t believe how fast time has gone since I last wrote a post about how my dissertation was going.

I am pleased to say that progress is remaining steady.

Writing has always been a dream for me. The lifelong ambition so far has always been to write a novel, to actually get to the end and know I have achieved it. Alas, so far in life I have never really got that far. But now I’m using the novel as my dissertation, it actually feels like that dream could become a reality. In a way, it feels surreal that I’m working on it properly, focusing on each word at a time rather than playing around with it.

My first draft was received well considering I had the fear it would be so awful no one would want to read it. My main problem was that I was only half in the character’s head: half was me narrating from a distance and half was what he was seeing and feeling. Due to my own voice coming through too much, there was also apparently the hint of places where I was trying too hard for a good mark.

Working on my second draft put the love of writing right back where it belonged. I had so much fun getting further into my character’s head and making sure I was seeing things through his eyes. There were moments of sitting there with my head in my hands because I was trying to envision how he would react in the situation rather than how I would have him to react.Dissertation 2

There were days where he refused to let me into his head. It meant I got barely anything written even though I was working on it for a considerable length of time. And then there were days where I just knew precisely how to have him react. Those were the days that were the most fun, the days where I felt like maybe I could write a novel after all. I hadn’t realised how much I was distancing the narration from the characters, but I was starting to see how much I was changing during this second edit.

With having such a major change to make throughout the whole piece, I’m hopeful it will mean I will have something quite constructive to talk about in my critical commentary. Anything to make life a little bit easier when it is a dissertation on the table, right?

I feel sorry for other departments. There is no denying it has been hard work and spending half an hour agonising over a paragraph is not fun. But writing this dissertation has actually made me remember what it is I want to do in life and to give me the courage to keep going with that dream. It’s making me feel that perhaps I can do this after all, as long as I keep putting the work in.

How many people can say that about their dissertations? Does anyone else have any comments on how their progress is going?


Dissertation Days #1


The one thing that every writer is told is that they have to be reading and writing a lot. But somehow, fitting that into your everyday schedule with all of the interruptions is not the easiest thing in the world. My dissertation is actually the opening of my novel, and yet having the time to sit and write didn’t seem to be happening.

So in the middle of the Christmas holidays, I packed up and shot back to uni for a few days in order to get some work done.

I must admit, it was one of the best things that I could have done.

Within moments of being there, I had started writing. To start with, I didn’t try and go straight into the dissertation, but instead had a catch up session. I had been so lacking in motivation that any sort of writing – articles, stories, blog posts etc – were far behind schedule. So I took some time to step back and catching up on the writing that I wanted to do, hoping it would get me in the mood for when I started writing.

Then it was off to the library to pick up more books than I would ever be able to look at in my short time period. But it worked, for then I spent the evening doing some reading. I was reading about Kipling at the time, and I find reading about other authors is again a huge inspiration for me. By the time I went to bed, I was really in the mood to focus although I had only been there a few hours.

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The full day up there was incredible. I continued writing from where I had got to with the novel, hoping to keep it moving forward so that I have a better idea of where things are going. At the same time as writing, I was taking some time to go through that chapter and edit as I went along, trying to keep my writing focused rather than my usual ramblings.

Then I went back to the beginning and did what I call the `Stephen King Edit` – the second draft has to be 10% less than the first. By applying this to the first part of my novel, I felt as if that bit was as ready as it was going to be in order to send off for feedback. There are parts that I’m not sure about, and won’t know what to do until I have the feedback.

I worked some reading inbetween the gaps in writing and even managed to throw in catching up on a TV show at the same time. Plus a few walks to some inspirational places and just enjoying the freedom again. Although the progress pretty much stopped again when I got home, it was fantastic to just truly focus for a few days and know that I made some solid progress.

Now I just have to somehow hope I can replicate that day when I’m trying to focus on it again.