Lately I have been feeling a little bit unsure of myself as a researcher – However, as I have found in my previous posts, I feel that I am able to more easily express these feelings by comparing my research processes to an entirely different endeavor. The current dilemma is that I do not know which stream I need to follow in order to row my academic kayak to the island of thesis enlightenment: The editing stream or the writing stream?
It’s no longer a secret to the blog-o-sphere that I’ve ‘overwritten’ my thesis.. It feels as though I’ve been out rowing for too long in less than ideal conditions, and there is now a bit too much rainwater weighing down the boat, preventing me from smoothly gliding through the ripples of the river..
As it stands, my draft exceeds the required word length significantly and is not particularly concise, but within it are most of the points that I am hoping to get across. While I have left myself with the task of editing down this dense and detailed thesis.. there are still key sections (try introduction and conclusion on for size) that require much more attention from a ‘writing perspective’.. Do I keep on rowing in the heavy boat and see if I can make it to the island if the conditions improve (writing)? Or do I pull the boat up to the side of the river to catch my breath, empty the rainwater and patch up the boat’s leaks and dings (editing) first?
While some of my peers suggest that just going ahead with the writing is a positive idea – others (myself included) understand that when the task of cutting words down is already oceansize: adding to the challenge is somewhat counterproductive.. Besides – won’t my conclusion arguments be made stronger once i have well written, streamlined chapters to navigate??
No matter the approach, this past week has been stressful.. I have been caught in this slipstream, which has been dragging me in the direction of one canal and then the other.. While at first I just kept on rowing along – allowing the currents to steer me at their own will – Yesterday, I sought some nourishment on the shore, and the boat benefited from a patch up and some time to dry out in the sun…
My focus shifted to the ‘housekeeping things’: addressing presentation ideas, refining in-text references and working through my bibliography and discography etc. This is because my supervisor has warned me not to edit too brutally on my work just yet.. I need to drain some of the pollution from the ocean before it is safe to keep swimming in it.. But I need to be sure that I know exactly what is polluting the water and what is not..
With so much content in the thesis – i do run the risk of editing out or ‘butchering’ certain passages which i may dismiss quickly after one glance, only to realise later that they may actually be pivotal to my broader arguments.. TODAY, however, is a milestone day that i have been waiting eagerly for: a sunny, peaceful day for me to take on the “editing stream”. My supervisor has been gazing over my first completed thesis draft this week and is ready to offer some feedback.. So I think from here, the editing process should be made slightly easier – I hope that soon enough, “the island” will be in sight.. I can’t wait to pull the kayak up to the shore and dive head first into its beautiful waters.