Umberto Eco Quote and the Dissertation

I’m not sure if I’m planning on rededicating myself to this blog, which really fizzled rather quickly it seems, but I had a thought and then an itch and then decided to write this down.  Earlier today I was surfing some of the blogs here on WordPress and I came across one that had this quote:

“Authors frequently say things they are unaware of; only after they have gotten the reactions of their readers do they discover what they have said.” ~ Umberto Eco

I found it both inspiring and relevant to something I experienced recently.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

I have officially started working on my dissertation again.  If I wanted to spend 12 – 16 hours every day, I’ve no doubt I could finish it by the end of the week; however, I think I’m going to give myself a tiny break with that and try for the end of July…end of next week at the latest.  What spurred me to this decision?  The realization that there is only one month of summer left and if I want one of my professors to have time to read it before the semester starts, then, well…, it kinda has to be FINISHED.

My first step in this process, after not even looking at it for almost three months, was to re-read it.  I read the Intro and the first three chapters and then decided to start revising and editing before I delved into the rest, but what I discovered was…parts of it are pretty damn good, if I do say so  myself.  I know I’m the one who wrote it, but I found myself interested in re-reading and engaging again with the ideas I had.  Now, it’s just a dissertation and even after the revision, it still won’t be publishable, but that’s the beauty of a dissertation, right? It just has to be good enough.  Nevertheless, I was a little surprised to be investing in the reading of my writing the same way I would have been if it had been a book for one of my classes.  And it reminded me of some of the ideas I had that I think are pretty important to my subject.

Anyway, that is all.  Setting aside a manuscript and coming back to it a few months later can be extremely eye-opening…and I’m willing to bet that it is nearly never as bad as we think it will be and at least parts of it will almost always impress us.

Happy writing, everyone!

Categories: The Process | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Umberto Eco Quote and the Dissertation

  1. i finished my MFA thesis just to get it over with. it was a novel, but it wasn’t very good, and i don’t plan to revise it. i don’t think my first reader read past the first 50 pages. but i am okay with that. it was worse than i thought it was. lol. i was kinda depressed at the time, didn’t really like grad school. but anyway. i’m glad you’re liking how your dissertation is going 🙂 good luck!

  2. Thank you! But I didn’t like all the chapters I re-read. I was pleased with about half of them and the other half I thought weren’t that great. But I just want it done. I want it to be done! I am not anticipating the end product to be anywhere near publishable and I doubt I will revise it to be so, but never say never.

    You said you finished your thesis just to get it over with, and ultimately this is the key, I think. Others I know have said similar things. I have to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough. Good enough to please my committee, pass my defense, get my degree and FINALLY move on with my life.

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