Dissertation Days (11): Getting a Handle on Things…

Sometimes, when you’re writing a chapter, it can feel like the vast expanse of time stretches out before you, and you feel like you are never going to be able to get the beast whipped into shape.

That was how I felt a few days ago.

Now, however, after a particularly productive day of revision (despite the dismaying news about the healthcare vote), I feel better than ever about the direction that this chapter has taken. For the first time since I started writing it about a year ago, I feel like it has the coherence that it’s been lacking.

I managed to carve out a few more pieces of fat, condensing a few paragraphs that were a bit repetitive. The first section of context is almost fully fleshed-out. I should have that done by tomorrow at the latest, and I might even be able to get a second full section done as well. I’ve begun colour-coding the paragraphs that I think are in a final form (blue is my go-to for completed paragraphs), which seems oddly appropriate, given that this chapter is all about colour.

I also managed to slice out several of those nagging couplets that I keep writing about, and I’ve also begun to address one of my other pernicious writing ticks: my reliance upon a repetitive way of introducing quotes. I tend to rely far too much on quotes to begin with, and I tend to almost always introduce them with “As so and so argues…” I’ve not only begun to cut down on quotes, but I’m making a self-conscious effort to find new ways of introducing and integrating them into my writing.

I’ve now been working on this revision for about a month, and it makes me feel so much better to finally have a handle on things. I know that this version might also need some substantial revision, but I’m proud that I was able to turn it around in such a short time. If I keep working through the weekend, I should be on track to get this version submitted by May 15 (or May 20).

There is still much to do, but once this version of Chapter 3 is sent in, I can finally turn my full attention to Chapter 4. It’s possible I can have that done by August. It’s a more conceptually limited chapter, so we shall see.

I can do this.

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