This week, I embarked on my first round of thesis edits. Through the program I’m in, the process of writing my thesis has been divided into two parts. The first seminar, which I am almost done with, requires me to write and edit the first part of a novel or short story collection (I chose novel), anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words. I won’t be sure of the requirements for seminar #2 until I start it at the end of the month, which is terrifying, because it’s possible I will have to complete a 90,000-word novel by January. And, by complete, I mean write, edit, and be ready to submit to a publisher. In three months. But I’m trying not to freak out too much, because I won’t actually know what’s going on until I find out who my professor is when the class goes live (it’s online).
For my current thesis writing seminar, I had to complete that 10,000-word chunk of my novel. For me, this worked out to be the first three chapters of my book. I’m not sure of the final word count, because I’m still working, and when I started over and had to turn something in, I left two scenes incomplete because I ran out of time and now have to finish them. But it’s somewhere in the required range, which is good, because I just have to worry about making what I’ve written a little bit closer to “good.”
One thing I learned in grad school is that I have to repress my inner editor until the writing is done. My compulsive editing is the reason I’ve never finished anything before. And it was a huge roadblock that I had to overcome. Obviously, I did, otherwise this post would be all about how I flunked out of grad school because I didn’t finish my thesis in time. I’ve learned a lot about editing – I even took a class called “The Editor” – so I’m not too worried about having to edit my work. In fact, I think I’m more critical in a way that’s actually helpful, which is nice. Before, if I thought something sucked, it would just end up in a folder on my computer named “writing – OLD” and I’d never look at it again. Here, I can’t do that. I have to turn this in. And, because of my academic OCD, I have to make it good so I can keep my GPA (which would be a 4.0, except for that B I got in literary theory).
My challenge now is editing part of the story without killing it. I’m worried that, when I finish this process, returning to writing the story will be a challenge. I don’t want to lose my motivation, because there’s a good chance I’m going to need to write a lot, fast. Right now, I’m not sure what the best way to approach this is. So far, it seems to be going well, but I haven’t hit the end of chapter three yet. And I’m worried about chapter three, because it is by far my weakest chapter. There’s a lot that needs to be done, and a lot that I need to fix. I guess I’ll update you when I get there.
I just need to edit another 7,400 words and write two more scenes by Sunday. I can do this! I think.