Writing About Writing My Thesis: Part 1
Notes on writing my MFA thesis from July 2021.
Just a few days ago, I submitted the first half of my thesis to be reviewed by my committee chair.
I'm terrified. Not about the feedback I'll be getting; I know I'm going to get incredible feedback — that's one of the reasons I asked this faculty member to be my committee chair.
I'm terrified about how permanent and honest this project feels. It's wrapping up my time at grad school and feels big.
The irony in this is that honesty is the main purpose of writing it. This thesis is a collection of essays about being yourself, my family, my hometown, expectations, and so much more; areas of my life that have held so many secrets and haven't been talked about. Right now, my working title is "Into the Light: Essays on Conversations We've Never Had".
I began working on the pieces that are going into this two years ago in the first semester of my MFA program, but even with two years (and two months) of work already put into it at this point, I'm still doubting my ability to do this well.
I'm incredibly in my head about this project. I've been second-guessing everything I do. Each edit I make, essay I add to the collection, or question I ask myself feels so heavy. Each decision feels like the most important one and that fear has been incredibly overwhelming.
So, what's next?
I'd love to say I have a solution, but I don't. I can just do what I know to do: write, edit, rewrite, and repeat until my submission deadline approaches.
Speaking of deadlines, I have a rough draft of my entire thesis due at the end of this month. While this is scary, I know it's going to feel so great when it's done.
Today, the department chair sent my signed application back to me. Now I have to submit it to the registration department. Today, this began to feel even more real.
So, I added most of what I have to my "First Draft" document. With that, I'm about 2/3 of the way done with a full rough draft. I finished writing out my deadlines for the next few months. I did what I could do today, and tomorrow, I will do what I can then, too.
The essays won't be perfect — they never will be. Nothing I do will ever be "perfect." But, I need to trust myself to know when my work is done enough for my thesis, to take and utilize the feedback from my committee, and to do my best when editing and writing.
What are the takeaways?
Freaking do it.
For me, "it" is writing even though I'm scared. Whatever "it" is for you, use your passion and believe in yourself. I promise you'll be surprised about how much you can do when you put your faith in yourself.
Whether you're writing your own thesis, applying for a new job, diving into freelancing, asking someone on a date, writing a book, or wanting to try something new, just give it a try.
I was scared when I started grad school over two years ago, but doing it anyway was one of the best decisions of my life so far.
I've dreamt of a life full of writing my entire life; now that I have it, I don't want fear to dictate it.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.
If you'd like to follow along, you can find me at @JaciSchreckengost.
Make sure to check back soon for more notes on my thesis process over the next months, some fiction thanks to the Vocal fiction challenges, and books I've read (spoiler: I only review books I love).
About the author
Hey there, I'm Jaci Schreckengost.
Here are some pieces of my writing. They're all drafts; some on revision one, some on revision ninety.
You can see more of my work at jacischreckengost.com. I'm also on Instagram @JaciSchreckengost.