I have always had a strange experience with sharing work that I have done, but nothing has been as awful an experience as turning in the first draft of my thesis. On Wednesday I had around 180 pages finished and on Thursday, I turned in a draft cut down to 122. I cut two chapters that I felt were incomplete from a novel.
I wonder if the experience of waiting for comments, not on the quality of the draft, on the possibility of a defense changes over the course of a week. And does the time to wait mean anything? It’s very weird to move from a world of deadlines to a world of waiting. Between the two I prefer the world of deadlines because deadlines carry an inevitability more than the trial of waiting feels inevitable.
Looking back on my experience at Florida Atlantic University in the MFA, I see the value of time to pit myself on a table and work. I entered the MFA interested in fighting with rituals of personal work outside of a professional duty. MFAs in general provide a period of time drenched with intellectual duties. There are real world assignments: teaching, preparing, grading, and paperwork encompass a very impressive amount of time compared to your own work.
Duties abound in life. Responsibilities pile up. A job is an agreement to trade effort and energy for the livelihood of a social status, social health, and comfort. At the end of the day when given the choice between doing your own work and choosing to do that is an abyss in one way or the other is a false choice. Both are equivalent. Whatever happens during time, you will reflect on that as a waste of time.
I write this directly aware that if I am unable to defend I the time spent on the draft will feel like the same waste of time that could have been spent consuming rather than expunging. It is an interesting moment. Another moment that is tangibly important. Perhaps the thing I wanted to touch the most in the thesis was that tangible moment where things culminate together into something that matters: the thesis became an incarnation. It doesn’t surprised me, I thought I’d share it though.
The interesting part about all grinds to do something is they inevitably come up against a threshold into the next tier. Whether or not you enter the threshold, the feeling of coming upon a barrier to progress is an essential step toward the feeling of membership with the gatekeeper’s group.
The object in hand felt good though. Even cut with 60 pages absent, far short of my own expectations, anything could feel like something and that something felt like everything. It will be interesting to go about the rigmarole of bureaucratic processes if I am granted such leave.
The most amusing moment is in conjunction with that palpable surprise. While riding a bicycle across the country or simply on a short tour at some point there is the sensation that the thing missing is not the thing you’re experiencing, but the ability to share what you’re experiencing as you experience it. You always wonder if the proximity of loved ones or friends could change that experience and could make the ownership seem shared by more than just you.
Or at least, I always wondered if these pivotal moments of change could be more than they seemed if shared. I don’t know, but I do know that the more you experience them the more you change and that change prompts you to be more if shared. And you share more. And you grow. The emotional bonds of life compound if you allow yourself to have them. The way you see yourself changes the more you allow yourself to grow. But, it all hinges on seeing yourself as better than you are.
Richard Brautigan and his quick witticisms buried in really awkward writing still pops up in my head. I still remember the opening of the strange book In Watermelon Sugar. I still reference it. There is writing that is a fictional account with an aim and there is fiction that is a gesture. I read writing with an aim because it is crafted, it is easy to read, and it moves me the physicality of the book and movement itself. Then there is writing like Brautigan’s that is a gesture. It haunts me. It sticks around and it’s staying force bounces between the strange place it was formed and the obvious reasons why it should not stuck.