I printed it out today. In Times New Roman font, thank you for the input! I’ve always used Times, it was quite satisfying to watch my thesis, comprised of short stories and a novel excerpt, print out in familiar type. I even thought of a decent title for my thesis, too. I am pleased.
What a shift this year has wrought. The thesis I’d aimed to write was not the thesis I ended up writing.
I fully intended on turning in a polished draft, or a large excerpt of my novel as my thesis. That’s what I thought anyway, when I began work on my thesis two years ago. Two and a half years ago was when I began writing my novel. I imagined a stack of papers over an inch thick when it came time to print out my thesis.
As the laser printer spit out the sixty-odd pages very carefully, one by one onto Crane’s Thesis Paper today, I suppressed a sigh. I’d gone off the path. I was turning in a last-minute group of short stories, not a novel. I was prouder of this work than I was of my novel, so it was not a sigh of disgust. That very thin, short stack was comprised of good work. I was proud because I wrote it in the wake of adversity. It was good work because writing it was part of my recovery.
The decision to focus on short stories was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my MFA program. I was unable to write my novel these last few months, and my thesis director’s expertise is in the shorter forms. Everything lined up.
But that sigh still swirled inside of me. I had a stroke. It really messed me up for a little while. I hate that it happened. I appreciate the result, I appreciate the lessons learned. I know I am better off today than I was before the stroke. My writing may even be better for all of it.
Still. I yearn for the day before it all happened, before I had to learn all the lessons, when in my mind, my thesis would span over a hundred pages of a novel. It was a less informed world. It was a more youthful world. I think I looked younger before the stroke. I looked at pictures of myself over the years, uptil the stroke, and then afterwards. Did the stroke age me? I’m sure it did, with all the graces and indignities that aging can bring.
I find it odd that a part of me yearns for that ignorance, for hundreds of pages of mediocre work. But I do.
And yet. And yet! I’m proud of the work that I will turn in tomorrow. And I pray, I pray, that this new road will lead somewhere great.