Sunday, September 18, 2005

Success!

No, no success yet on Chapter One (although my advisors' suggested revisions were so minor I should have it finished by tomorrow). Rather, I just found something after searching and searching for it! I can get very obsessed about finding something... even though I claimed I don't have ADD in a previous post, my office does look pretty messy. I always say there is a method to my madness, but the past two days have tested that theory.

In September of '03, I attended my good friend's dissertation defense. A side benefit for me (besides attending the party afterwards, of course!) was that I took some notes. Part of the notes were for her benefit because, after all, who remembers what is said in moments like that? But part of the notes were for my benefit, as I noted what kinds of questions the advisors asked. (we share 2/3 of the same committee members, and the same chair.) I figured that all academics are somewhat creatures of habit, and they'll likely approach my defense with some of the same questions. It just felt like a little security blanket for me, something that gives me some sort of an idea of what I'm getting into.

Well, part of the process of getting ready to revise the Whole Thing was pulling out jumbled papers that include thoughts and notes and others' comments... but the defense notes were not among them! Yikes! So I looked and looked and looked yesterday, but no luck. I took the notes before we moved to our new house, so that always involves another level of thinking, "Well, in the apartment it would have been there... so where is that stuff now?"

This morning I realized I'd have to become my own historian and discover what I was working on at the time. So I had to face what I thought would be a depressing investigation: what chapter was I working on at the time, and how long was I working on it? Pretty interesting findings, I must say. Chapter One took way too long to finish, but was finished in April of 2003. (which was during my first year of full-time teaching!). Chapter Two was finished a year after that, in April 2004. That's my biggest chapter and drew from an enormous amount of documents, so it sure did take a while. Chapter Three was finished in September 2004, which means it took 6 months. Chapter Four was finished in February 2005, which was also a 6 month process. Chapter Five (perhaps known as the Epilogue) was finished in mid-April 2005... a shocking 2.5 month process! Sure, Chapter Five was probably half the length of other chapters, but still... a good lesson in how momentum works. And how you just want to Get. It. Done.

Anyway...long story short, since I was working on Chapter Two at the time the aforesaid notes went missing, I concentrated my search there and found them in a folder labeled "Chapter Two Debris." hallelujah! I'm very relieved. When I do finish the written revisions I can begin to give some thought to the general questions they'll likely ask. For me, personally, defending something in an oral argument situation (our doctoral exams were 100% oral, nothing written, hence terrifying for me) has always freaked me out, so it's good to have some sense of how one worked. Knowledge is power.