Writing about Writing about France

There’s been a lot to do since I got back from Paris last month and my thesis has had to take a backseat. It hasn’t been easy readjusting to a world where I have responsibilities other than eating and reading. My goal this summer is to have twenty pages written by the time I go back to school, and it’s only in the past week or so that I’ve been able to make progress towards that goal.

Writing has been an entirely new experience. I’ve never written a fifty-page paper and it’s difficult for me to even conceive a project of that size. When I write smaller papers, I plan out every paragraph in detail — my outlines are usually much more difficult for me to write than the finished product. I find that if I have a global conception of what I’m saying then the only obstacle that remains is finding the best sentences to do it in. It’s worth noting that in French universities, which heavily influenced my academic writing, most professors accept outlines from their students for writing assignments rather than requiring them to write out complete sentences.

With my thesis, though, there are expectations that I have something to show people. My advisor wants to see progress on my writing and I need to be able to ask professors for advice and critiques. I have no choice, then, but to start writing now, even though section two is still just a template awaiting the fruits of my eventual analyses of the books and section three is contingent on the conclusions of section two. I have over 110 pages of notes and quotes that I’m supposed to use to supplement my arguments, but I’ll have to go through that document several times before I figure out how exactly I want to use them. And all the while the pressure to write builds and builds.

I’m certain that I’ve failed to find the most efficient way of doing this. If I could start over there are several changes I would make to my methodology for my research process, and when I get to May I’ll probably look back on these first attempts at articulating an introduction and wish I could have made similar revisions. But I guess that’s why it’s a learning process.