Can’t Blog – Thesis

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.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. I’d like to know how a creative non-fiction thesis works. The process is probably quite different than an oceanography thesis…and probably more fun. Certainly more interesting to people outside the field.

    Good luck with the writing, and keep doing updates :)

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