The blessings of small changes

Good news: I just read through my advisors comments on Chapter 2: The One that Still Bears Signs of Struggle. Mercifully, I only have about 15 things to fix. Most are small sentence revisions. A couple are including sources I haven’t seen yet (mostly just adding footnotes). And in places where I thought I had some significant work to do, he suggested cutting. All in all, it’s not a bad lot. I’m anticipating that I can get it cleaned up and out to my secondary advisor before the week is up.

I’d have a little party for myself, but it would have to consist of decaying lettuce and moldy cheese. Perhaps I’ll have a little party at the grocery store. I may even treat myself to a Whole Foods trip.

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Checkpoint: Chapter 2 provisionally approved

I just got word from my advisor that though my Chapter 2 “still bears signs of the struggles it has generated,” “it works.” I have a few changes to make before I send it off to my secondary advisor, but I’m still celebrating. One more step completed! Three more to go before I can schedule my defense! (2ndary advisor approval of Ch. 2, both advisor approvals of Ch. 4)

On small goals

Events have conspired to keep me from making great progress on this chapter. I’m recalibrating to aim for an April 1 defense. It’s achievable and reasonable, even though I had a necessarily slow week last week, and I’ll have a slow week again this week.

Accordingly, my writing group goals for the week: read something, and write one bad paragraph.

Of course, I’d love to do more. In fact, over the weekend, I ordered ILL books and started typing up notes on an article. But at minimum, I want the satisfaction of accomplishing what I set out to, however small.

I’m hoping (and confident) that one small accomplishment will lead to another, and eventually, I’ll end up with a finished chapter.

Getting started (again)

It’s a new year, the year I finish my dissertation. That’s reason to celebrate.

The first start:
Last week I had two days set aside to work, and both got cut much to short by circumstances (mostly) outside of my control. I did follow Dame Eleanor’s advice for getting back into good work patterns–I stacked books and articles, moved them to my desk, printed out what I’ve written of my current chapter so far, signed up for the new iteration of the online academic writing group.

Today’s start:
Today I started by reading what I’ve written so far. And though I was a little afraid to peruse those eleven pages, they’re really not half bad. They’re the most solid first draft I’ve written in the dissertation. I do have a lot more reading and writing to do, but I’m feeling hints of optimism about the chapter.

And onward:
I’ve been making my reading list, figuring out what books and articles I need to order, and generally getting organized in the research department. My next tasks will involve dealing with all the research of read that needs annotations or notes. I’m also hoping to start the week by knocking out 500 words of my 3000 for the week.

These are all little things in baby steps. One word after another.

I’ve been feeling anxious that I won’t make my deadline for a February defense, and it’s quite likely I’ll miss it. But I’m trying to remind myself that another delay does not equal failure, that 2013 will still be the year I finish, and that the delay is likely to only be a month or two. It’s difficult to balance the desire to be done with the discipline needed to actually finish. Thanks to the writing group for keeping me on track.