This week, as I attempted to write another section of my thesis, it occurred to me that I’m approaching this project in a completely different way than I would if I didn’t need to turn it in. My thesis is fiction, so I am essentially writing a novel, but I’m treating it like schoolwork. Yes, it’s both. But I think my academic mindset is, in some ways, keeping me from writing what and how I would write if this were just a fun project.
For example, my professor told me I should give my main character a love interest to add to the story. If I were writing this just for myself, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’d write all the cheesy romance I want and then figure it out later. But because I have to submit this, I’ve spent most of the week procrastinating because I feel incredibly awkward writing a romantic scene and then turning it into my professor. This might be just me, because I have a classmate who is literally writing an erotic novel for her thesis. I can’t write the way I normally would, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m struggling so much with this thesis.
But it isn’t the biggest reason for my struggle. That would be the dreaded pacing. I’ve written quite a bit over the past few months, and I don’t hate all of it. The problem is, my thesis is only supposed to be about 30,000 words. Which is fine, except much of what I’ve written might be more appropriate for a longer novel (my proposed post-grad length is 90,000 words – because we had to come up with a separate full novel proposal). For example, I spent around 3,000 words – a tenth of my thesis – on a scene that should be just an obstacle to the main character, but, because of length constraints, turned into the main turning point of the novel. It’s difficult to wrap my head around it when there is so much more I want to do with this story, but can’t. And because of that, it seems incomplete or inadequate.
This week, I really came to terms with how the constraints of the thesis format are affecting my writing. Between the love scene (which is hopefully written by the time you’re reading this) and the fact that I only have about 7,000 more words in which to wrap up this book, I’m freaking out just a little bit. It’s a daunting project on it’s own, but, as someone who’s never completed a novel, I’m struggling with the desire to do it on my own terms.