Friday, February 11, 2011


I have a problem on my hands that seems without solution.

In the first year of my graduate program, I was feeling uncharacteristically ambitious and, wooed by the prospect of working under the tutelage of a woman who is hands-down the most appealing academic (and possibly the most appealing human being) I have ever met, I decided that I would ask her to be my advisor in writing an optional Master's thesis.

Optional is the only word in that very long sentence that matters.

It translates to: I am an idiot.

So I took my shiny little self to meet with her, convinced her to take me on, and registered for her course on Qualitative Research Methods. The week before the course began I was stricken with a cough (perhaps you recall the rumple syrup?) that never ended. It made it impossible for me to complete the primary requirement of the rigorous class: writing the Research Precis. I told the teacher, my hero, about my plight and she seemed unfazed. Every year, she assured me, someone couldn't finish for whatever reason. I could simply take an incomplete and finish it sometime before I graduated. The 'I' grade would be replaced with whatever grade I received, with no penalty for having taken a sabbatical.

So I took that incomplete. I shoved the precis to the back of my mind. None of my Masters level cohorts were involved in research, so I just never had much occasion to think about it.

But I need the grade to graduate. In May.

I am, as you know, due to deliver a baby in less than seven weeks. This is great. What is not great is that it means that I should really get this grade taken care of before then. Which means I have to write a big thing.

Which, as it turns out, I hate doing.

I have spent some significant time this week trying to write the introduction, and every time I start I get Jello-brain even worse than my usual pregnant mental functioning. I start to fall asleep. I feel depressed. I just want it to go away.

I would almost go so far as to say that I can't write it, but I realize that this is probably just hormones talking.

I suggested to Ryan that I just ask my advisor what it would take to simply pass the class, and he looked horrified. Apparently he thinks that this would be a breach of integrity, which I am willing to consider, and also to accept at this point. My next idea was to pay someone to write it for me, or to hang out and write it with me, but then I remembered I don't have any money. I just want it to go away.

I will never try something ambitious again.

Anyone want a baby?


Liz Johnson said...

What's your thesis on? I'll help.

Kate said...


I am glad that I'm not the only one who faced with a serious deadline or time-crunch leaves least neglected: the blog.

Seems like I go on a blogging spree during finals time each semester.

Writing real stuff is hard & scary. Professors don't know how cruel an indefinite deadline really is.

amy said...

I wanted to write a prospectus outlining a Participatory Action Research (PAR for those in the biz of qualitative research) project related to PTSD in survivors of birth related trauma. The research question remains somewhat nebulous. I want to keep it as simple as I can, though this is not a hallmark of qualitative research, which exists to glorify complexity. I'm trying to do the lit review and it's melting my brain. Turns out I like reading research, but writing it probably isn't my thing. Too bad I didn't figure this out before I took the class like a dummy.

Jen said...

Are you sure it's not just the intro that has you stumped? You could try free writing a bunch of different things about the parts you feel most passionate about, and then try to organize them? I find intros and conclusions the hardest sometimes, but I also find that writing the body and interesting part makes them come together a little more easily afterward. If you can stand the freewriting, I'd love to do some reading and suggest organizing for you. Good luck!

Liz Johnson said...

So you don't actually have to do the research, right? Just write something that says "this would be a cool research project and here is why?" I have been out of school too long to understand your big wurds.

missy. said...

I'll help too.

CK said...

Oh Amy! So, sorry babe. This timing is just SO cruel. Take on your friends' help offered here in the comments and I will lend a hand in editing if you'd like. Good luck and I'll send prayers!

Adriana said...

sister friend, you are in luck. im the queen of writing qualitative research proposals. sounds like that's all you have to do, right? just the proposal, you're not actually conducting the research? facil. send me you're draft and i'll see how i can help.