Let’s see. Thirty seven hundred dollars a semester for seminar. A quarter tank of gas round trip to Manhattan, at let’s say $3.83 a gallon. My car holds 16 gallons, so do the math. I’m an English teacher and I am not doing the math. Sixteen dollars to park as opposed to Central Parking’s normal 40.00-thank you, Fordham for the discount. Then there is the book expense. Now Fordham is not requiring books at this point, but I am a ‘book-o-phile’ and when my Google Scholar announces a new title in my more than 12 alerts, the Amazon account activates. It is so frequently accessed, it is a short cut on my desk top, and they know my name. “Welcome back, Sheila.”I feel so wanted. Dinner is optional though I usually take my daughter out so that’s another 30 at least- conservative amount. Do the math. Even without doing the math, it is easy to say that Dissertation Bacon- Hash Tag Sizzle costs a bit. But what does dissertation blogging have to do with the math? I’ll bring you there.
Classwork was easy. Two classes a semester, a full time teaching job, grading papers, reading, writing papers, studying. Kept me busy for sure, difficult, yes, but compared to the process of beginning the dissertation process- it was a piece of cake. And yes, in my previous blog post about bacon, I may have made mention of the Food Network’s recipe for bacon cake. And if I did not, well, forgive me– there was one. Maple Bacon Cheesecake. The thought of creating that cheesecake was actually a pull not because I particularly wanted to make it, but because it seemed easier to digest than the struggle facing me when I was trying to compose Chapter 1. In fact, my attempts at chapter one were so feeble that when I saved my drafts, I did not even call them drafts, I called them practice. Dissertation proposal practice 1, or 2, or 3. Practice because as I came to discover, I really did not know what I wanted to do. My ideas, my interests, my questions were so big, I had difficulty wrapping my arms around any of it. It was like hugging a cactus. Ouch.
I had to figure it out. I had to stop thinking so hard. I had to just do it. Now, I do not know how many words were in the first three practice proposals. It’s a lot of counting and I am not doing the math. I could hit the word count, but why bother. So I had a random conversation with someone who simply said, “If we were sitting down and we had just met, and I asked you what is your dissertation about what would you say–and keep it simple, stupid.” That guided me and when I thought about it in simple terms, I was able to begin to narrow it down to, well, fifty things.. Not really, but it was down a bit. Flash forward to a class with several other dissertation inmates and one warden (in the positive sense),
SO I CHOSE ONE. And started writing. Now, while I still am not brave enough to take the practice out of the heading for the proposal, I did narrow the lens. And as I began to write, I realized, just how much I am really asking of my own students. Think before your write, I tell them. Words are powerful. Choose them wisely. Pick the best to deliver your message. If your audience does not understand your message, it is your responsibility. Make your writing sensible. Have an argument you can stand behind and support. Care about your composition. If you don’t, no one else will. Write daily. Live it. I am asking them to do a lot, but that is o.k. because I am not asking them to do anything I am not asking myself. As I began to write, I struggled over every single sentence, every single word, every single idea. Is this the right opening? Is this verb powerful? Do I sound authoritative? Is my message clear? What is my structure like? Am I supporting my argument? Do I have an argument? I was exhausted. When I went into school the next day, I had a much deeper understanding of the students sitting in my class, a deeper respect for what they have to do. Empathy beyond belief. I told them. I shared my process and their misery. And I managed to get a page that I could live with-for a practice run. One page. Do the math. Those are very expensive paragraphs. But it is a start and the Dissertation Bacon Hashtag Sizzle has begun.