The end of the tunnel

March 25th, 2009

It either speaks poorly of me, or honestly of the way this semester’s been going: Apparently, I have two fewer weeks to work on my thesis than I’d assumed.  *Doh.*

Chapter Five is now mostly written.  There are gaps in the text where I’ve made notes for myself about what to write later.  I’m not good at this procrastination/last-minute work thing anymore.  I like to sleep.  So, as per usual, I’m behind the reasonable schedule I’d set for myself because there’s SO MUCH to do. (Goodness the coursework!  Goodness gracious!)  I’ve had a headache from the tension in my neck and back for the past week or so.  Oy.

But, on the good side, now that Chapter Five is (almost) finished, I can write Chapter Seven.  I’ve been waiting for this forEVER.  I mean it.  This is the chapter where I get to watch TV and think about the future and generally gloss over the last 15 years of Haitian-Montrealer history, in terms of everything else I’ve already talked about (actual history, political participation, literature, etc.).  And it will mean I am done.  I’m SO EXCITED!

I suppose I should write a list about lessons I’ve learned while doing this project…

1. A “let-it-be” approach is acceptable in research, because it means you are perhaps more likely to let the data speak for itself (rather than cherrypick).  However, it is not an excuse not to think about the parameters of the research you’ll need to do.  I wish I had had a better idea of what kinds of sources and materials I’d need to collect, so I could have done more reading in Montreal.

1 -a. When taking notes, do not feel rushed or bored.  If you’re bored, take a break/get a snack/go on a walk.  And after every little meaningful/-less piece you work with, write a short summary of at least a paragraph outlining the author’s main point, the examples s/he uses to support the argument, and where this might fit into your current or future research projects.  This would have saved me so much time!  (Although I might not have gone back and read a couple things as thoroughly as I ought to have.)

2. Do not underestimate the power of the first chapter you write.  It can be the toughest, but it really helps frame the writing style and flow of the rest of the work – no matter which chapter is written first.  It’s also the first chance to really think about the gaps you’ll have in other sections, so the sooner you write it (well), the sooner you can fill in other blanks spots.

3. Peer feedback is good.  Reading other people’s work is good.  The first bit gets you an outsider’s opinion, and the reading part allows you to think about how you write your own work.  Learning to edit your own work is a good thing- editing other people’s work is a good place to start that process.

4. Strong topic sentences.  Active voice.  Concise.  All good.

5. Amusing yourself while writing – my favorites are deciding to cite someone because I like them (don’t worry; it makes sense when I do that); and alliteration.   Also, skipping around the chapter – you don’t have to write a book the same way you read it, which can help get out the ideas you have before you forget them regardless of where they’re supposed to go.

I guess that’s it.  I need to do homework as I fall asleep.

Docket: 1) Finish thesis!  2) Try to stay on top of things. 3) Learn to be tough-skinned, and take things lightly (not personally).  4) Find a job.

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