February 3rd, 2009

I don’t know why, but I’m pretty good at working myself up about things.  Call it a family trait [[To show why “geekiness” made it on the list: one summer reunion, we actually developed a list…]] that I’ve inherited from both sides.  However, as I was contemplating (more like moping) if I should keep trudging along on my thesis, as little as I feel I know about the subject, I realized: I’d do it anyway.  Yes, even if it weren’t for a grade or a degree, I’d keep writing my paper.  (Remember, geekiness is on the list.)  Thus I am once again on the road to a defence.  On the bright side, after this month’s mental trip-up, the world seemed to answer my cry for help.  Friends appeared that I’d not seen in months, even years; my financial worries were somewhat assuaged for the moment; and clouds lifted.  Creepy, but comforting.

Anyway, so I had meetings etc and worked out some kinks in the plan.  Since the immigration chapter/section was giving me such troubles, I’m moving elsewhere to at least accomplish something before I re-tackle the obstacles in Chapter Four.  This afternoon after classes, with just an hour or two free, I think I managed to hash out a solid draft/outline of the chapter on Haitian national identity.  This evening, assuming I can get back to work-mode, I will either hash out a draft for the Quebec national identity chapter, or just keep fleshing out the draft I wrote for Haiti this afternoon.

One of the things my advisor reminded me of was I CAN’T SAY IT ALL.  I’ve only got so much space to fit the argument in, so simplicity is paramount.  I don’t know why, but that made me feel better.  It means that I don’t have to write like the Heinls, whose book is so densely-packed with primary source references and quotations that it’s a bit hard to understand Haitian history unless I skim.  It also means that I can consider only the twentieth century, even though I will need to reference some points in the older past to talk intelligently about the development of Quebec’s and Haiti’s national identities.  Entertaining the idea of making this a book is just that – entertaining.  It’s not real, and it’s definitely not now.  I need to focus on what the task actually is – a paper of no more than 100 pages – rather than on dreaming about the Montreal publishers actually liking the manuscript etc etc.  [[And why would an undergrad get a book deal when most grad students are reserved that honour?]]

And another thing – I’m more open to ideas about organization now.  Cindy keeps saying how I’m writing a lot of chapters, which is fine by me.  It makes sense to me to keep things separate like I have.  But on my walk home from a work meeting today, I figured: I could put all the theory chapters (Intro/Ch 1, Ch 2 and Ch 3) into one single chapter, and have sub-sections.  Then, all the “experiential” chapters (Ch 4, 5 and 6) would go into a second single chapter, with each part as sub-sections.  The conclusion will still be its own chapter; lonely.  I am sure I will keep writing like they’ll all be their own part, but maybe later, if I have time during my revision phase before the defence, I can consolidate.  Interesting mental note for the future…

The Plan: 1) Flesh out/finish Haitian national identity chapter; 2) Flesh out/finish Quebec national identity chapter; 3) Send said chapters to unsuspecting editors; 4) Enjoy a nice Diet Coke bought by a scary man.

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