Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Did anyone else feel like this, or am I just messed up?

I've been meaning to mention: I sorted out the formatting and cut some words from my draft, and handed it in to my committee on Friday. Handed it. In.

I don't think I ever really believed I would say those words. Admittedly this is still only step two of around six steps involved in really-and-truly finishing and graduating. (For those keeping score, I'll still have to get it back from my committee, make revisions they suggest, submit it officially, have it externally examined, make the revisions they suggest, submit a final bound copy for the library, and graduate.) But this part should still feel kind of conclusive, right?

So why on earth am I still sitting around feeling like I need to worry about it? Why do I still spend every evening with that sinking procrastinating feeling? When I could be spending endless hours reacquainting myself with my Sims families or charging through the Oblivion underbrush* on my faithful (though undead) steed? And why do I still feel that strange not-good-enough angst of the lost dissertater? Weren't these things meant to be over by now? (Except for the charging around on the undead steed bit.) Wasn't I meant to be celebrating? (Me and my undead steed with a large glass of gin and tonic?)

Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe it was the coversheet.

I printed the draft without a cover page. Without the acknowledgments or abstract, either, since I haven't written them yet, and in the template file I have as a placeholder, it just says, "I'd like to thank my lucky stars. And my cat, for not eating me." (I'm tempted to leave that as it is, but probably won't.) But when the 289 (single-spaced) pages of the dissertation finally lay there on my desk, it looked naked without a cover page.

So I went back and printed out the official front page as specified in the university format guidelines. The one that said the thesis title, my name, and then, "A thesis submitted for the degree of doctor of philosophy of [university name]. August, 2007." I put that on the front of my pile of pages, and then totally freaked the fuck out. Because it looked like a dissertation instead of like a pile of draft pages. I swear the coversheet was looking at me funny. (Kind of like a "Ha ha ha, you call that a dissertation?" funny.)

So I took it off again. And maybe that was my mistake.

___________

* "Charging through the Oblivion underbrush" sounds like it should be a euphemism for something. But I promise you, it isn't.

14 Comments:

TitleTroubles said...

I couldn't even bring myself to type out my cover page until I was finishing off the final, final draft. When I tried to replace the name of the guy whose file I was using as a template with my name, my fingers tied up in knots. That was painful, so I gave up trying. I'm not sure my advisor even saw the cover page or the acknowledgements until after I'd submitted my final copy. It seemed like Murphy would curse me if he did.

Geeka said...

Yeah, I think that I am going to leave those first pages till last. I think about them, but I don't dare write them.

shrinkykitten said...

I didn't do my thesis acknowledgments until the very end - partly because I didn't want my advisor to see them till then (because I went on and on about her).

Congratulations on turning it in! I hope at least part of you can feel some relief.

The History Enthusiast said...

Congrats! I hope that you find peace about it...I'm sure that there is nothing to worry about.

BrightStar said...

You're totally not messed up... I swear, these processes like dissertating and being an assistant professor trying for tenure are designed to brainwash us to feeling not good enough and feeling like we need to work constantly. It's difficult to finish a dissertation -- what's the end point? When you have a draft? When you defend? When you finish revisions and / or formatting and submit it to the graduate school? Turning in a draft is a huge, wonderful end point, but it's also really hard to feel done. I felt more of a... "okay, now what?" feeling, like I should be working still.

I love the version of acknowledgments that you have currently. Too funny.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Congrats! And I'd say your feelings are totally normal.

Jana said...

Die totale, beklemmende Angst, dass die Diss nicht gut genug war, dass ich mich damit blamiert habe, hat erst angefangen, nachdem ich abgegeben hatte, und sie hat mich - trotz der Abschlussnote! - Jahre lang begleitet.

But life improves immensely when you've got it behind you. Truly, it does.

StyleyGeek said...

Jana, those two statements are totally and utterly at odds with each other.

Jana said...

No, no, they're not! The beklemmende Angst has descended upon you, yes, but every other misery of being a grad student disappears. The net effect is that your life does improve wonderfully

paideia said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know that it's hard to feel it, but you did finish something big.

I felt very much the same way. My cat also did not eat me, but she was, actually [blush] in the acknowledgements; I did not start the cover page and acknowledgements until the very end [proofreading] part before distributing. I copied a friend's cover page formatting and seeing that "submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree" bit under my _own_ name was completely wonky.

The part where my stomach truly fell through my feet was when I dropped it off at the copy shop to make versions for my committee. In fact, I "felt" that more than I felt my defense.

I don't know if it ever feels "over." For days after I distributed, I felt like I had forgotten to do something. I defended [successfully] last week, and I keep thinking I still have to prepare for the defense!!! I've always known that closure is a psychological fiction, and now I know it for SURE.

EA said...

You don't sound messed up to me... I know it's not nearly, hardly the same at all, but I just finished those holistic descriptions, a major step, and now I feel like I'm back in the depths again with "What's the next step?"... I don't think this is going to feel over until the fat lady sings... I mean I have the diploma in my hand... and even then I might wonder if it really belongs to me...

IR said...

I actually do acknowledgements as I am going. It reminds me there are nice people who help me, and also helps me remember people who were helpful in, say, chapter 2 that I've long forgotten about.

And on turning it in, I know the feeling. I actually turned in my thesis and then took a trip, because otherwise I think I would have been confused what to do with myself!

But congrats - enjoy the moment.

Anonymous said...

It was the wandering out of Registry after handing in the soft bound copies for the examiners when it started feeling real. Then I went back to my office and started on the poster for the conference in the following week. Little anti-climactic.

Felt far more real when I first saw the hard bound, corrected final version. With black binding and gold lettering. It looks shiny and professional and I wondered how that had happened...
Don't ask how long til I found the first mistake.

Stellar_muddle

Judith Thomas said...

I’m pretty sure that anyone would feel the same way as you when you passed the paper for review. It just shows that you really cared about the outcome and it would be a big thesis help if they would be back with comments that you can work with. Anyway, what happened to your paper?