Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thesis Breakthrough

I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out. I mean, I live in a college town. People are constantly working on projects and papers and such. Why did I not realize sooner that I can leave my humble abode and work on my thesis at coffee shops and restaurants and bookstore cafes? I mean, everything is better with food, right?

Yesterday, I brought my thesis in to work so that I could attempt to work on it at lunch. (It's recently been made portable. I can't seem to see the big picture when it's on my computer so I printed it out.) I had brought a salad to eat. When lunchtime rolled around the salad held absolutely no appeal. Remembering that I had $3 in my wallet I had what Oprah calls an "Aha! Moment" - I could go down to the pizzeria, get their lunch special ($2.99 for 2 cheese slices and a soda!), and sit in a booth working on my thesis! So I did. And it worked beautifully. I kept looking at my watch to see if I needed to leave to get back to the office and time seemed to stretch for me. I got a lot done in that tiny little hour.

Then, when I went over to Friendster Guy's later in the evening, I was still inspired so I worked on it for another couple hours while he sorted his accumulated paperwork and used his new shredder (paperwork is much more fun when you have a toy to play with). We were both so productive it was ridiculous. And, wonder of wonder, I actually enjoyed it. I kept exclaiming with glee because things were coming together.

One of my thesis advisors, a 60+ year old Jewish man from Brooklyn, likes to say "Shoot your darlings." (Only when he says it it sounds like "Shoot yer dollies.") What that means is you have to cut the things you love from your thesis if they don't fit. This is especially true in an oral history when people tell you these great stories about their lives but they don't work in the overall scheme of things. That is what I did yesterday. I was ruthless, shooting darlings left and right. And it helped. Getting rid of the verbal flotsam and jetsom tightened everything up and made the thread of the story that much clearer. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Today I think I'll head over to the coffee shop at lunch and see what magic I can perform. Eventually I'm going to have to get back on a computer but for now, I'm content to lug around 90 pages of paper and cover them with squiggles and arrows.


pagalina said...

If you were Martha Stewart, you'd whittle a laptop out of fine mahogany with little inlaid ivory keys so you could work on your thesis without lugging 90 pieces of paper.
(I JOKE!) :)

Sassy Pants said...

True enough!

Though if I were MS I probably would have been done my thesis the week after it was approved (which I believe was the early fall of 2005).

I also probably would have had a stroke by now.

I sure do like my down time.