Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Defend a Dissertation. Or Two.

I'd much rather not be thinking about the two books anymore. I feel quite burned out from the hybrid environmental memoir, especially, and I stupidly thought that once I turned it in to my committee that'd be that. I see now that the editing never ends, knowing full well that if a press takes it (oh happy orgasmic day), many more edits will occur--likely helpful ones, too, of course. But I'm tired.

I am thrilled and lucky to have such a good committee of thoughtful, caring, fascinating folks who are very talented writers. Even the biologist. And I look forward to their comments on my work, probably sometime next week. In fact, I'm very very very eager to hear what they thought.

Then I look forward to some paperwork. Then some running around campus to see how my abstract and front page formatting is. Eventually more paperwork and signatures, more formatting issues, more hidden fees to be paid, and then this incredibly stupid electronic dissertation filing system the university has adopted that gives your work an ISBN but does so sneakily. Kinda makes it hard to publish in a REAL venue after that point since it's already copyrighted with some other company you don't know from boo but who now own your writing. There's a temporary stopgap to the e-filing ISBN business, but I've come up with a more permanent one. You'll have to use your secret decoder ring to see how.

Anywho, I think April 1 will be when I defend* the memoir and poetry collection. I think April 1 is also when the memoir will make its full debut to publishers (the poetry is already out, and has been for some time, garnering favorable handwritten, one to two sentence rejections grrrr).

Now I've got some essays and stories to grade, an essay to edit and send back to a journal, a tree to find to block the view of my neighbor's front porch (dogwood, redbud?), and some beehive candy to eat.

*Defend means a nice congenial conversation with people you admire followed by bursts of suddenly intense questions (like a hailstorm) about your work that make you shutter to the core because you are A) fairly nervous even though you don't need to be so nervous omg B) you came with naive ideas of grandeur, mochas and delicate pastries, pats on the back, gifts, divine light and ascension on to some higher existence, et cetera C) you're a writer and can't express yourself coherently via oral expression so would much rather have the oral be a take home exam or even another 250 page book with paper handmade by you from your cat's fur.


Anonymous said...

because . . ."you're a writer and can't express yourself coherently via oral expression so would much rather have the oral be a take home exam or even another 250 page book with paper handmade by you from your cat's fur."

Money quote!

Now that's funny.

Susan Tomlinson said...

I thought the diss was the most noxiously difficult thing I've ever done--and I've done enough noxiously difficult things to know! Kudos for getting this far--many don't. It won't be long now.

Also, the committee would not let you defend if they didn't think that you were ready. Be humble (to be otherwise invites the "take down" among some academics, as I'm sure you know ;-))but confident, and things will go smoothly.

You should feel proud of yourself! Many felicitous congratulations!

Amanda said...

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Ha, this is priceless, Benjamin! I'm so with you here--I'd rather write a 3-page e-mail than have a 5-second phone conversation any day. I had to have orals to get my AB as well as my MA and MS, and the AB orals were in French! (One prof asked me a question I didn't know the answer to, and they all thought my comprehension of French was at fault rather than my Southerner's knowledge of bizarre Northern practices. Talk about a humiliating experience for a 19-year-old! I could only recall the one word I ever missed in elementary school spelling bees, "kale." Being Southern, I'd never heard of kale. The teacher didn't believe it.) So grrr is right. Prepare to be mortified, and still come out successful at the other end! And, um, as a professional editor, I can only say about being edited for publication, "Prepare to meet thy God." Yow. You only think the academics are bad...

Town Mouse said...

Looking back, my diss was one of the easiest things I ever did. It felt monumental at the time, though... And the feeling of relief when I was ALL DONE had not been surpassed by many experiences.


Benjamin Vogt said...

David--Money? Are you paying me? Will someone pay me for my writing? Please?
Susan--I try to be humble in such situations. I don't know if I'm terribly good at it in most things in my life, though.
OFB--French? I think I remember you mentioning that once. I've actually worked with two very nice / helpful editors this year already on two shorter essays, so if I can get someone like that for my books, that would be wonderful. Cough.
TM--Yeah, I'm beginning to wonder if this might be the easiest thing, considering I hope to do much harder things. Like, for example, starting this fall. Alas.