I considered announcing a hiatus for this blog as I spend the next eight months crafting my master’s thesis in creative non-fiction. I haven’t been posting much lately, both from a lack of time and a lack of something to say. I admire people who can blog on a daily basis, but I don’t like to come to this blog and just throw out some random thought. This blog is my portfolio, in a sense, it’s my representative to the world, and when I blog, I want it to be a well-crafted narrative about something.
Which is why more often than not I start blog posts and abandon them. I’m not doing this to waste anyone’s time – not readers’ and certainly not my own.
So while all my free energy is going towards my thesis, I thought I’d close down shop here – and then I had an idea. Maybe, somewhere out there, there’s someone who’s interested in the process of creating a master’s thesis. Maybe you’ve always been curious about how it’s put together, the review process it undergoes, and what one does with it when it’s all done. I don’t know the answers to any of those questions myself, so I might as well share them as I learn. That was the original purpose behind this blog – sharing my trials and errors so other people can learn from my mistakes.
I’m five weeks into the semester of Thesis Prep – which is the semester in which I produce as much material as I can, so that I can spend my official Thesis semester editing it into something salable. Or, at least, this is what the professors at USC tell me.
My thesis will be a collection of interconnected essays about my experiences with religion, community, and identity using my recent Birthright trip to Israel as a framework. Some of the essays might be funny, hopefully some will be moving, and they better all be interesting to someone other than myself or I’m in trouble.
Every two weeks I meet with my thesis advisor. I give her new material, and we discuss whatever I gave her the last time around. I’m trying very hard not to go home and rewrite the essays immediately after because I have a tendency to get stuck in rewrites, and this semester is all about churning out the pages. I did bend that rule on the last essay I got back from my advisor, though, because it was something I needed to get right.
This essay, formerly titled “The Church of Potter,” is about my years in the online Harry Potter community, which I likened to being in a cult. I’ve struggled in writing this one, probably because it was a significant period of my life, and also a sad one. My advisor tells all her students that they should be neither the victim nor the hero of a piece, and in this case, I had a hard time striking a balance. I want to portray the dark side of having lost several years of my life online, and also the positive side, in which the fandom gave me something I needed at the time. Hopefully on this most recent draft, I’ve done both.
But, of course, with these kinds of rewrites, the direction of an essay can change dramatically. I set out to write something humorous, using religious terminology to describe the Harry Potter fanbase. The more I wrote, the more I realized it was about me and my identity, and wasn’t that funny at all. The scenario was ridiculous, but the emotions weren’t.
It’s not an easy thing to find, I don’t think, but it’s certainly rewarding when your writing takes a turn like that. The most valuable moment for any writer is the ‘Aha!’ moment. It should be cherished.
Now I don’t know exactly how much I should share as I write, but I figure there isn’t a rule book, so I’ll figure it out as I go. And here goes.