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Four Weeks Down, Two Weeks Remaining.

One.

I have painkillers. Everyone finishing a thesis/novel should be given painkillers in the final weeks, I believe. Is this mike on? Am I lucid? Heeey, thanks for your applause--you're alright.

Except you up the back. Fuck you.

Two.

Went to the University today and saw the Supervisor.

There appeared to be all these people around. I didn't know what to make of them at first. They all had yellow bags. Some of them wore yellow shirts. They all appeared happy and excited to be at the Uni, even a little nervous. In comparison I was burnt out, tired, and limping. They appeared to like talking, too, and I overheard one of them asking about the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor relationship. Jesus. Then I realised that it was Orientation Week, and that everyone with a yellow bag was a new student, and everyone in a yellow shirt was an old one with too much time on his or her hands. That doesn't explain the Chancellor question. Personally, I suspect it was a law or med student. It sounded like the kind of brown nose question one of those would ask.

I made my way past these yellow shirted and bagged people and up into my office. There are still multiple copies of the Bible in it. The German one says Die Bibel, I believe. I naturally read this as Die Bible. I think the Bible should be changed to reflect that. Who do I petition for that?

Eventually, I saw the Supervisor.

Three.

I can't proof read.

This will come as no surprise to editors, readers, anyone who has seen my work before publication. I can't proof read. I have a blindness to the words effect and affect which appears again and again, despite my knowledge of how the words work. My spelling also sucks, and it results in stupid little typos. I try to catch them, really, and over the last four years, I have had numerous conversations about the skill of proof reading, which are mainly about me getting said skill. The University is full of anal bastards, sure, but I do agree. I should have the skill more than I do. I am better than I was four years ago, but there comes a time in your life when you just have to face the fact that you're not very good at something and it's time, I feel, to admit that I can't switch off the content of a piece when I read it to be a good proof reader.

I can't proof read.

...

By the way, I have a drinking problem. Where do I go to confess that?

Four.

You really have to admire my Supervisor, however. She's very persistent on the proof reading issue.

Five.

Eventually, I got to the content of A Year in the City, which was nice. Some issues raised, some I'm going to ignore, but a few I'm going to listen too. So that means a couple of days rewriting, I think. Moving a few footnotes around. Changing one slab of text, of that I am sure, and then I'll be good. I'll be done. I'll probably begin posting about how I'm bored and broke in about three weeks. Wait for it.

Six.

Here's something that may or may not interest you about doing a Creative Writing Like Doctorate, at least at the University of New South Wales. Your mileage will be different from place to place, I imagine.

Anyhow, basically, when they allow you to come in and soak up some space in the English Department (I kinda wish they'd change that to Literature Department, myself) you do it under the awareness that you will have to produce a large piece of academic writing to go along with your fiction. The general word count for a doctorate is a hundred thousand words, and when you do creative writing, they chop this word count into a seventy/thirty rule, which basically means you produce seventy thousand words of fiction and thirty thousand words of academia. If you go beyond this, the rule becomes 70/30 no matter what, so the more fiction you write, the more academic words you have to have as well.

A Year in the City is one hundred and five thousand words long.

'A Dissertation to A Year in the City' is thirty thousand words long.

Obviously, I've known this for a while, and I'm not particularly bothered. I wrote a mosaic novel. There's no central narrative, no one character that you follow through it, unless that character is me, the author. So it's not all that difficult to reduce it by thirty thousand words, though it changes the novel quite a lot, of course. A larger exploration of the city is lost, just at a basic level, and the novel becomes a lot less complex. The secondary conversations about sexuality and crime are lost. Those conversations still take place, but they're not very big, and might not even really appeal to the reader. But on the other side, the removal of the chapters does, I think, make it a meaner, leaner book. No part of me views the seventy thousand version of the book as the complete version, but I find the idea that I can have two versions, due to the mosaic structure, quite fascinating.

Structure has always been to me a very craft based thing. Perhaps that doesn't sound right, but what I mean, is that I view it much in the same way you build a house. Certain things must be put here to support this. You need a supporting wall to hold the roof, you know? I don't write blueprints for narratives like some people do because, frankly, I find it kind of boring. I like to write with a vague idea of where I'm going. I worry about maps and flowcharts and all that kind of stuff when I've finished and I need to rewrite. At that stage, I go back, I get some cement, some fresh bodies, I build.

Did I just say bodies?

Six.

You, up the back: fuck you.

Seven.

I have decided, years from now, when I am working in a bar, or perhaps sitting on a curb with a green, environment friendly bag that holds all my belongings, and I tell people about my years of writing a thesis, about how I attempted to get the Dr. initials for no particular reason I can remember now... In those years, I plan to sum up the experience by saying, "Towards the end there, I was living off painkillers."

It'll be a lie, but it'll be a funny one.

Comments

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shadowsandice
Feb. 23rd, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
Eh. You. Up the front with the mike. Fuck you.
benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 05:51 am (UTC)
don't make me hurl this whiskey bottle at you, girl.
shadowsandice
Feb. 23rd, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)
don't make me throw this chair at you, boy.
benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
i think i'm in love now.
shadowsandice
Feb. 23rd, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
Go eat a painkiller.

Are they good painkillers? I assume we're not talking over the counter type stuff.
benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
they're okay. nothing special. i figure if i chewed down the box i might get some real fun, but, you know, probably some hospital time, too...
shadowsandice
Feb. 23rd, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
You need to learn typing by telekineses.
soosiep
Feb. 23rd, 2006 06:40 am (UTC)
Isn't it lovely that we both attended the same primary school and now write our days away?
benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)
well, yes, i suppose it is. except you were entering that primary school as i was finishing high school :)
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 23rd, 2006 09:07 am (UTC)
If you're anywhere near as mental as I was at that point, you'll need all them painkillers!

benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 11:37 am (UTC)
i think i'm mostly burnt out. so mentally dead.
squirrel_monkey
Feb. 23rd, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
I don't remember much about writing my dissertation -- I think it's a defensive thing. I remember crying a lot though.
benpeek
Feb. 23rd, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
well, i haven't done the crying yet. maybe soon. maybe when i get it back with a huge list of changes :)
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
Hey Peek,

keep some of them painkillers for me will ya? I'm in pain.

Rju
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
can't i make you suffer some more?
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