How not to write a dissertation

2013-07-03 09.36.44Sorry about the break, I’ve been a bit stressed here.  No, not about the job (well yes, but more of that later).  No, I’ve been trying to cram six months work into eight weeks, to write up a dissertation. It’s all part of my grand scheme to become a Rev’d Dr – I’ve been studying for a professional doctorate for three years now, and have another three years to go.  This year is the year of the MA level dissertation. 18000 words on the topic of my choice, as long as it’s original and adds to human knowledge. Simples.

Except that I’ve moved house, uprooted family and changed job.  My attention has been elsewhere (I may have mentioned this before).  I had brushed aside thoughts of study as I learned the basics like where to buy milk, how to switch on the church hall air conditioning, and where the unexpected steps are in church.  It’s all very understandable, but the fact remained that I had a deadline, so at the start of June I began to make serious inroads into writing. A week into July I met my tutor, who very encouragingly didn’t quite say I needed to start writing all over again. Instead he pointed out I had all the relevant knowledge in my head, I just needed to get it on to paper coherently.  Well, I’m a woman who can take a hint, so I started afresh.

It has been fraught.  My family have suffered, and bluntly so have I.  None of it was helped by having one of the highlights of the church year, our Patronal Festival, last weekend.  For the first time, it was decided  to combine the fete and the festivities.  Someone inadvertently booked a wedding for the Saturday afternoon, I equally inadvertently booked a baptism for the Sunday afternoon.  The scene was set for a very stressful couple of  weeks.

I don’t recommend it.  Not to anyone.  It is a recipe for tears and illness.  However, it is now DONE.  It is submitted, two whole days ahead of the deadline.  I am greatly relieved, and I know that this will have been the hardest year.

When I start again in September, I’ll know the basics, even if I am stressing about Harvest and major Remembrance events and Christmas.  I’ve got a better sense of the work load, I don’t panic about finding the crematorium, in fact I’m settling down very happily.  And I will be into the first of three years of producing a thesis.  The first year is the spade work, and it needs to be done well – but it will be done in a context I am starting to understand, in a state where I can plan at least a little, and choose a bit more wisely when to say yes, and when to delay a little.  In other words, I can start to be a bit more planned and a bit kinder to myself. I’m rather looking forward to it all!

One response to “How not to write a dissertation

  1. Well done for what you’ve done so far and I wish you well with the next three years of your Doctorate studies and writing. I’m worried about having to provide 5000 word essays for the LLM training starting in September, but 18000 words put’s it into perspective.

    And of course, what I’m doing will be to equip me for the ministry which has called me for the past six years, but to date, has all been done on the basis of a little bit here and a little bit there, with no coordination or objective in sight. Not my fault really, just circumstances and the church seemingly not really being interested. Now, finally they have a plan, and it really seems the right one and I’m doing it in company, supported by my incumbent and being cheered on by the congregation among a cohort of fellow learners, which will be encouraging and hopefully will allow God to gain a servant who might actually have some idea of what he is doing, instead of blundering around blindly at the moment.

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