Beginnings

Whenever I start a new blog I always feel the need to begin with a disclaimer.  Apart from that one statement, I am going to try and resist the urge to do that here.  I only ask, please be kind.

I am a graduate student, soon to be ex-graduate student (*crosses fingers*) when I defend later this year.  This semester marks my tenth year of graduate school and from the end of January through the beginning of April I wrote the bulk of my dissertation.  Over 200 pages of academic prose in just over two months.  I am still rather surprised myself.  I had a deadline that demanded I be finished writing by the end of March.  Well, I did not quite finish by then and unfortunately that deadline was extended, which is my excuse for not having finished the last chapter of my dissertation yet; however, those 200 pages got me over the hurdle that divides graduating “some day” from “holy crap, it is really almost over.”

Deadlines are magical things.  For me, anyway.  I work well under pressure and cannot seem to accomplish anything without first severely procrastinating.  I had a year and a half after I finished my fieldwork to get this dissertation written, but I waited until essentially the last minute and finished most of it in about two months.  A year and a half…(*uses hands as an imaginary scale*) two months… Hmm…  Victoria Schmidt, in Book in a Month: the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days (2008:26), mentions the “Pareto Principle,” which is the idea that in most cases 80% of the effects or accomplishments come from only 20% of the causes or the effort.  This theory explains why 20% of the population holds 80% of the wealth, why 20% of published authors sell 80% of sold books, and apparently why about 80% of my dissertation was written in about 20% of my allotted time.

A couple of weeks ago, just after I found out I will not be graduating in May (*pout*) and after having completed my second-to-last dissertation chapter, I started thinking.  If I can write 200 pages of academic prose – writing that needs to be footnoted, cited and double-checked to ensure accuracy – then surely I can write a novel – writing that largely comes directly out of my head – in at least the same time frame.  So, I did a little research and bought a couple of books (see the Resources page for bibliographic data).  Most of what I read ensured me that it really does not take more than three months to complete a first draft of a novel.  Chris Baty, creator of National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), along with scores of NaNoWriMo winners, ensures me that it is even possible to complete a first draft in no more than one month.

I still have that dissertation chapter to write, and then revisions to finish, I need to find a full-time job and summer is almost upon us, so I would like to be able to enjoy the season.  So, I have a lot to accomplish in the next few months, but for the moment I also have a ton of time to myself (which is usually a detriment to my motivation), and I am going to try to use this time to take some important steps towards checking one more thing off my “bucket list,” that is, to become a published author.

Here I go…

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