Reflections on April

April was about returning to Gatsby, conclusions, final proofs, and submission. I ended up writing my Gatsby section in a record-breaking ten days. That’s less than two weeks, for reference. It was intense, but it went so smoothly compared to my first go at the novel. At this in the process, I think I was finally ready for Gatsby. I mentioned in previous blog posts how slippery the text is, and approaching it through the framework and language I used to approach TRSL made a huge difference. I felt like I had much greater control over the text and a clearer focus. I ended up pulling a few sentences of analysis from the documents I had spent all fall writing on Gatsby, but other than that, it was 22 pages of brand new material.

My favorite bit of writing I did in April, however, was the conclusion. This was exciting because I was able to return to a lot of the research on masculinity, modernism, and mourning that I had done over the summer that got pushed aside as my topic transformed. I went back in time a bit in my project with TRSL, but, closing with Gatsby, a modernist text, I was able to indulge some final reflections on modernism, manhood, and loss with a new, transhistorical clarity. In a coffee shop in Richmond, I wrote my conclusion with focus and clarity– two things I struggle with, yet have been strengthened in me during this process big time– in a single afternoon. The content of my thesis was complete. Surreal. I sent it to my advisor, then treated myself to Cava before driving back to campus.

After finishing my content, there were a few more notes, a few more edits, and a whole lot of proofing. I sent my entire draft to my English Major pal (and the only other student I know who loves Howells as much as I do). I’m so glad I did. There were so many little mistakes like random bracketed question marks in the middle of sentences or double verbs where I hadn’t just chosen one yet. I’m sure there are quite a few more riddled throughout my 73 pages (omg!!!) but I realized that last week that I had kind of lost the ability to look at my text closely. After staring, working, fixing, cutting/pasting, revising, and writing for so long, my eyes just glaze over the words. And the closer I looked, the easier I found it to convince myself it made no sense. So, out of self-mercy, I pulled the trigger Thursday afternoon and turned it into my committee members a day early. Of course, in my haste, I immediately realized a typo on the cover page. Yikes. I printed new cover sheets and snuck into the English department office at 7:30 the next morning to trade them out before my committee members were the wiser.

And that was that. I’ve been getting a lot more sleep since then. My defense if the first of May, and I’m excited to talk about process and ideas. I feel more confident speaking than writing a lot of the time, so I’m excited to communicate my thought process verbally. Stay tuned!

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