If I were a good grad student, this would be a post about how parting with a thesis is emotional, how finally handing it in all wrapped up in its pretty bindings is terrifying and sad and exhilarating. I would probably use a metaphor involving a child.
A thesis is meant to be a pet project – something you have a love-hate relationship with, you’ve dedicated months (years if we’re talking phd) of research to, and which has consumed you entirely. My thesis was a thing I had to write to graduate (just a long essay). Its purpose was to tick a box on the degree checklist, and I knew it needed to involve something historical-linguisticsy. I metaphorically plucked a topic out of a bag of topics at random and then wrote 9,725 words about it (as close to the minimum word count as I dared to skate).
Knowing you’re in the wrong degree in the wrong subject and doing something that you find only mildly interesting and then having to produce a major research project on that topic is, to use the words of my supervisor, soul-destroying (he was talking about something else entirely). It’s a terrific phrase. It so very thoroughly describes how painful writing that thesis was. If I give you the mental image of me literally scraping the words out of my head, you might begin to understand what a painful process this was. I died a little every time I opened the document, and I feel absolutely no connection to the words I put on the screen (okay, well I may have formed some thoughts I’m rather interested in, but that’s as close as it got).
I am really not looking forward to my viva on Wednesday with Geoff Horrocks and Torsten Meißner (who I think are rather likely to give me a hard time), and I’m only looking forward to my presentation tomorrow because presentations are fun and because any college event organized by James Clackson is automatically a very nice and classy affair.
Anyway, it’s in. It’s submitted. And I spent twelve hours yesterday drinking and frolicking with friends. I also dedicated my thesis to Athena because I’m going to need every bit of luck I can get.