Monday, August 27, 2012

Thesis Update!

Dun, dun, dun, dun...DONE!!!

Yippee! Yahoo!!

Well, mostly done. It is now as finished as I can get it. I've had feedback from 4 astute readers (many thanks to Bridget, Ed, Christie, and Mark). I've incorporated their generous remarks into one last tinkering. Tomorrow I'll print it off, and Thursday I'll leave a copy of it--all 140 double-spaced pages of it--in my advisor's box at PSU.

Then I'll wait.

Then we'll meet and he'll give me more feedback, and I will, no doubt, revise it again.

Then (probably in mid-October) I'll meet with my thesis committee for the thesis defense. One of the committee members will be my advisor. The other two will be writing professors at PSU. They may tell me it's wonderful, or they may give me more things to revise. So be it.

Whenever the absolutely-last-final revision is truly finished and submitted to the PSU Graduate Office, and I've jumped through a few more paperwork hoops, then I will finally be finished with the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) Degree in (nonfiction) Writing.

Whoop whoop! It's been six years since I first started taking classes.

One night class per term.
The turtle track.

Today's final challenge was deciding on a title. It's much more difficult than you might think. There are many, many stupid titles floating around in the air, just waiting to be captured so they can pretend to be perfect...NOT. There are several good titles that have nothing to do with your book. There are several more excellent titles that (you discover when you check on have already been used multiple, multiple times. Bah.

If you have a sense of humor, going through all of the stupid useless titles can actually be pretty funny. Luckily Mark has a good sense of humor. So we giggled through our family home evening tonight as we brainstormed LOTS of titles. None of them worked, but we had a good time.

For your reading pleasure and entertainment, I will now present you with the list of bad, useless, stupid, already-used, rejected titles. I really and truly have considered all of these at one point or another in the last few weeks.

Crossing Lines: A Mormon Woman, a Scoutmaster, and the Little Lies We Tell
No Turning Back: Balancing Mormon Womanhood and Finding Self
Still Not Out of the Woods: A Story of Stumbling into Self
Having a Great Time, Wish You Were Here: The Lies We Tell Ourselves about Loyalty and Trust
Rearview Mirror: Reflections from a Mormon Woman Finding Herself
Finding My Way: Revelations of a Not-So-Ordinary Mormon Wife
Against the Rules: Examination of an Ordinary (Mormon) Life

Sigh...what's a girl to do? And these were just the ones that made it into actual title format...even sillier are the partial titles/phrases that came out of this evening's Thesis Title Brainstorming Session at our family home evening.

Married, Mormon, Mom, Miserable
Finding a Mormon Husband and Having Short-Term Personality Loss
The Brigadoon Syndrome--a Mormon Tale
Road Closed
Swimming Upstream
Fences of the Mind
United Disorder
Minding My Manners
Parallel Lies
Endure to the End
Code of Silence

Ugh and ugh and ugh. 

One good thing about all the goofy titles was that I can finally say with a little more clarity what the thesis is about. I know it sounds silly, but that's been one of my struggles during the writing. 

I used to think it was about going to Wood Badge scout leader training. There is a whole chapter about that, and several more chapters about the effects that experience had on my life, but that's not really what the thesis is about. Then I got sidetracked into thinking it was about my marriage to my first husband, Joe, because that's in there too. But again, that's not what the story is really about. And there's also a lot about being a Mormon woman, but what is the thesis about?

What I've realized by going through the Great Title Search Struggle is that those things--Wood Badge, my first marriage, even being a Mormon woman--are the context for the story. The actual story is me, and how I had to grow up and be honest and stop lying to myself and others about the consequences of choices I had made. 

And so, for better or worse, for now at least, the title of the thesis is:

(drum roll, please!)

Never Good Enough: Reflections of an Ordinary Mormon Housewife

I know, I know, you want to read it. Maybe. After I finish defending it. And it might have a different title by then. But for now, at least, when I go to bed tonight, I can say to myself, "It's done. My thesis is done."


Katie Lewis said...

Congratulations! That is huge!

Dorothy said...

One less thing to worry about! Yea! "Ordinary"? I don't think of you as ordinary....

Sarah said...

You're right, I want to read it ;)

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I agree with Dorothy. Maybe Extraordinary masquerading as as ordinary.......

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

Oh, and Congratulations on getting all the editing done!