This semester, I am taking a required, self-paced course that guides students through the steps of writing a thesis proposal. Although school has only been in session for about a month, I’m already about halfway through the exercises and will soon be starting the proposal itself. I couldn’t be more excited.
I have been waking up (early-ish) every day and doing a little bit of writing before the kid gets up. I feel like I have done so much research and put so much work in over the past few weeks, and I am brimming with enthusiasm for my project. I’m excited to write the proposal because it will really help me state my intentions for my project.
So what is my project?
Well, for starters, it’s not going to be like anything else I’ve ever written before. It’s not romance. It’s not even fiction. I’m writing a memoir – a collection of short stories – about all the different places I’ve lived. I’m going to take a look at each house or neighborhood, what kind of person I was while I lived there, and what kind of person I eventually turned into. And maybe a little bit about where I’d like to go next and the person I’m still working on becoming.
I have worked on a few stories already, and have most of the rest mapped out. I’ve written a ton of notes. I have all kinds of ideas. I’m just really looking forward to getting started. But, first thing’s first. The proposal!
For my proposal, I’m rereading and analyzing three memoirs from writers that I admire.
Rise by Cara Brookins
Searching for Mercy Street by Linda Gray Sexton
The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard
What is most inspiring about these authors is their ability to speak so unflinchingly about some of the most difficult experiences in their lives. In addition, I plan on talking about the structure of Brookins’ novel, Gray Sexton’s use of memory, dialogue, and detail, and how Maynard manages to maintain an authentic voice.
Once my proposal is submitted and approved, my research advisor and the university powers that be will match me up with someone who will be my thesis director. When I’m assigned a thesis director, I will have nine months to complete my project. I’m guesstimating that I will end up finishing my project in the fall of 2020, which means I will be graduating in 2021.
I’m looking at that stretch of time on the calendar and can’t help thinking that nine months doesn’t seem like very long. A lot is going to happen in those nine months and the months after. Next fall, when I finish my thesis, my son will have turned five and will be starting kindergarten. In 2021, when I graduate from Harvard, he’ll be graduating from kindergarten. Two big, new beginnings. Only a year away.
To big, new beginnings!