Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thesis Update: Week 8

Week 8 stats:
Number of words this week: about 6,200

Number of pages this week: 21.5
Number of total pages this summer: 170

30 more pages to write, and then I will be at 200.

So what's up with this thesis? I am enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Portland State University. The MFA thesis is actually a small book. I am in the nonfiction strand of the program, so my thesis will be about 120 pages of polished nonfiction writing.

No, I am not anywhere near "almost finished."  Hahahahaha!!! 

The key word there was polished. I am hoping to get to 200 pages in the next week or two, and then go back and rewrite them down to 50-60 pages. I will be lucky to keep 1/4 of what I have written so far. When I do that, I will be halfway done with the first draft. There will be many drafts. And many more pages to write to get to the second half. 

My thesis advisor thinks that if I can get a good start this summer--like halfway through the first draft, 50-60 pages--that I will be able to get much of the second half written during the fall term. We'll see.

In order to graduate with this degree, I still have to take 2 more literature classes, and finish the thesis. I will probably take 1 or 2 more writing classes along the way, to help with writing chapters of the thesis. I've been taking 1 night class per term since spring 2006. I have to finish the program within 7 years, and I will probably be at least 2 more years to finish. 

My thesis is based on memoir, the 5-year period between 1989 and 1994. During that period, 3 major life-changing processes were going on: 
1. I was an assistant scoutmaster, working with 11-year-old boys.
2. I went back to college and earned my bachelor's degree.
3. I divorced Joe and married Mark.

I'm trying to weave those three threads together in a way that makes sense. My working title is "Growing Up with the Boy Scouts." 

Actually, it's a little ambitious to say that I'm weaving anything together at this point. The 170 pages that I have written so far are a mishmash of memories  on those three topics from that period. VERY rough. I haven't even started going back through old journals or looking at photo albums or interviewing friends and family. The more I write, the more I remember. I am not worrying at all about the quality of the writing at this point. Lots of it is awkward and crappy. Lots of paragraphs begin with the same word. Lots of the sentences are short, simple, declarative sentences. Nothing flowery, just getting it down. 

Anyway, for those of you who wanted to know more about these thesis updates, that's where I'm at. My goal for this week is to write as much as I can. Family demands became pretty heavy at the end of last week, and they will continue into the next week, so I'll be happy with whatever I can accomplish for now.


Carou said...

I have been fascinated by your writing goals and your progress. I think you have a wonderful way with words and enjoy reading your excerpts about your many adventures. Thank you so much for sharing. You are a true inspiration to women of all ages!

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

Good work, Mom!