On Friday, May 2nd I defended my thesis short story collection, “Beneath this Roof: Stories” (only in quotes because it has yet to be published. Alas.) and passed. The defense went well and was actually quite interesting. I learned several things about both strengths and weaknesses in my writing. Apparently, I tend to slip into the conditional (e.g. “I would do this” or “She wished she could do that”) at moments of crisis in the story to avoid conflict or I use the conditional for good reason but it ends up taking the reader unnecessarily out of the scene.
Another interesting result of my defense was that I learned that one of my most successful stories was the one I discussed briefly in the January 31st post, “Ah, more thesis.” It’s called “Semantics (n. pl.)” and still follows a sixty-two-year old woman with early onset of Alzheimer’s. I initially struggled with creating sympathy for such an off character before I gave her condition a name. But now I think she’s one of the most moving characters in the collection. That’s encouraging to me because it shows that revision can really work wonders, which I need to remember sometimes when I’m feeling reluctant to revise.
Yesterday, I actually turned in the final water-marked and signed copy of my thesis to the Graduate School. As soon as I got home, I felt tired and realized it was probably due in part to the fact that a great weight had just been lifted! Because the thesis defense was actually rather anti-climatic, it was nice to actually feel done by turning it in to the Grad School. I don’t think I’ll feel really done until after I’m done grading and writing and reading for workshop, which I suppose won’t be until mid-June. Alas.
And looking back at that January 31st post reminded me that we now have a new large filing cabinet. It’s a four-drawer, legal-sized, metal monstrosity. It’s wonderful! It holds all of my writing (or at least most of it) in one drawer. All of our other records go in another drawer, which leaves two (2) whole drawers for future filing for me and my writing. I can’t wait to fill it!