A Milestone Moment!

Yesterday, around 10:30 in the morning, I hit “send” on the draft of my fourth and final dissertation chapter.

That felt really good…. until I remembered that everything now goes through several rounds of revision towards the final product, due to my committee in totem on or before February 1 in advance of my March 1 defense.

I’ve been keeping track of my progress on this project since I wrote the first draft of the prospectus last December. The first iteration crashed and burned, and I ended up essentially starting over (although with a lot more understanding of what my project was NOT going to be!) around May. That means that the current four chapters that comprise the body of my dissertation happened between June and December–a very respectable 6.5 months to full first draft.

So, before I dive head-first into revisions, I am going to take my own advice and celebrate this milestone. I am pretty sure a new pair of shoes is in order, but first: definitely cupcakes and Skyrim.

How do I *really* feel about getting to this point in the dissertation? Honestly, a little like these guys after all the hard plays pay off in that sweet, sweet touchdown:


Or, you know, like Ellen Degeneres pretty much every day:


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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2 Responses to A Milestone Moment!

  1. Samantha says:

    6 and a half months? That’s incredible. My advisor suggested – and I seem to be on track – three years from the moment you first put pen to paper and write the first words of the dissertation. Are you anticipating a very long revisions process? Or are these chapter drafts roughly finished? Congratulations in either case – what a spectacular achievement.

    • Melissa Ridley Elmes says:

      Hi, Samantha, thanks for your question. The chapters are in decent shape, but there will be a significant revision and probably two between now and my defense in March. I was able to finish this draft quickly by leveraging previous work–I came into the program knowing generally what I wanted to write on, so I had a number of final essays from classes and conference papers that served as zero-drafts for these chapters, which substantially sped up the process for me. Although I began and abandoned 50 pages of a first attempt, that also proved helpful by showing me what was and was not possible in this project, so I was able to streamline things towards a quicker completion than would otherwise have been possible. So when I say “six and a half months” it’s not for the full dissertation process, but simply for this draft of the project. Overall, I will probably be at two years, total, from first course essay on the general topic to final, submitted project. But again, I came in with a project selected already and worked on it steadily through coursework as well as comps and dissertating, which is how I was able to finish the degree in 4 years (assuming my defense goes well in March!)

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