Wow. I really haven’t blogged a month of Sundays.
So where have I been? On a long dark quest to find my dissertation thesis statement. My lord, was it a difficult and frustrating journey! It took me about a friggin MONTH to write a sentence that I felt accurately described what my dissertation is about. When I finally thought I was well on my way, I showed it to my god-sent mentor and she (lovingly) hacked it to pieces. So then I spent the next week, ruminating, drafting, scribbling, and talking to try and search the depths of my soul (and brain) to figure out what statement am I really trying to make with my research.
Then FINALLY after inhaling some yummy crab cakes from Baltimore Crab & Seafood and while downing a beer at Slice, I took out a pen and started writing in my composition book (how romantically antiquated, right?). There, on that bar stool, the thesis sentence to end all thesis sentences finally came to me! HALLELUJAH!
Well, maybe it wasn’t the best thesis sentence ever, but it was a helluva lot stronger and better than its predecessor. Even god-sent mentor thought so! So now I have something I’ve never had before, an anchor. It’s a pivot point that is based on the theoretical and the observable. It’s a governing idea that determines what makes it in and what stays out of my dissertation’s focus. It’s a sentence that is specific enough to reel in my tangents, but flexible enough to grow with my writing process.
I feel much better about life now that my writing seems to have (some) direction.
So what have I learned?
Thinking is incredibly hard (and time consuming). It’s a humbling matrix of activities that include writing, reading, thinking, playing, listening, and talking. Perhaps the most difficult part is that the end result, the idea itself, doesn’t always materialize on our time schedule. Thus it requires oodles of patience (which I had to learn to develop).
In the end, there’s a reason why this is called a “Doctor of Philosophy” degree. I am called to find some aspect of life and deeply consider it, interrogate it, contemplate what I find, and write up my experience and its results. I’ve grown to understand and accept that my project most certainly isn’t perfect and neither will be my dissertation, but I won’t let that deter me from completing my task. Or as a Ph.D. friend aptly said, “I won’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.”
PS: I deliberately didn’t include my dissertation in this blog. I’m saving it for its big reveal. But here’s a better gift since I’ve been so obsessed with Quincy Jones lately.