Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The writing of it

And so to desk. I did finally write my dissertation, about which I was surprisingly anxious - which might be a hint as to why it's taken even longer to write this blog about it.

I . . . well, I did all the usual things I'm sure everyone does when they have a dissertation to write.

* They sit reading and reading and reading their way through a pile of stuff, most of which looked like a good idea when they first looked it up/printed it/downloaded it but which now starts to seem increasingly irrelevant/tedious/marginal.

* They write an intro which starts to seem tendentious/over-written/unclear/boring.

* They go away to another part of the country, lie on another sofa, reading more books and papers - between going for walks and making phone calls.

* They feel bored.

* They keep going.

* They come back to London and start writing - in between doing all those other things in life that suddenly seem so urgent.

* They finally have something on paper - which seems . . . fantastic/boring/axiomatic/irrelevant/second-hand.

* They go away again, read some more - walk some more, go out to lunch some more, worry some more.

* They finish it. Well close enough to finish it that they think they better show it to someone - particularly because they worry that they perhaps took the tutor's encouraging them to be brave maybe too far. But the supervisor is now long gone.

* The tutor who encouraged them recommends someone else to read it, a former student who (to their relief and gratitude) tells them it's not complete rubbish.

* They do the final tweaks and polishes. They print it and get it bound the way they have to - something that, of course, takes longer than they anticipate.

* They arrive to hand it in with three minutes to spare. They are told by the administrator: 'You will be disappointed to know, Pete, that you are not quite the last . . . Best title so far, though.**'

* They wait what seems like months but is no more than six weeks or so. They get a Saturday morning phone call (or was it Friday) telling them they've passed.

Next up So was it all worth putting myself through all that studying? What did I get out of it?

** Which was . . . 'Love and work. Love. Work. And. Sex, ambition and hate, too, of course. Oh, and desire, sublimation and play. And and. And the spaces in between.' I'll send you a copy if you're interested.


Lo Jardinier said...

So the title used quite a lot of your word limit then?
Just catching up on your last two posts: firstly, it's a different kind of writing, the dissertation - I imagine. So because everyone said 'You're a writer, easy peasy' you may have missed out on some sympathy/respect/amazement, which might have helped with that long production process. I've never attempted anything similar, only watched my partner write one, and I think most people don't realise the sheer stamina you need, and in the end brute willpower to finish. And maybe the psychoanalytic subject matter adds another mind-bending twist.
What now for the blog? You'll have to go for a doctorate to keep your readers happy.
And yes, you know I'd be interested in the dissertation - email I guess?

Peter Silverton said...

fortunately (or unfortunately) the title wasn't included in the word count — though the bibliography was — the rules were super-strict, in fact — one word over and you were docked five per cent, i think — which was fine by me — vicious but democratic — your empathy/sympathy was much appreciated and to the point — though i must say the effort i needed to heave myself over line was in good part related to having just finished a book that was something like ten times the length

doctorate? no, thanks — though i'll add that thought/question to my forthcoming blog self-questionings about doing the course

as to emailing the dissertation, yes, i'll send you a pdf — which other readers might like to know is what i meant when i said i'd send it to you if you wanted to read it — the offer is still open