A post to motivate, encourage and inspire…
When I was an undergraduate in college, I was terrified of entering a track of study that might land me in the position of having to write a thesis. I didn’t even really know what a thesis was. All I knew was that it was a huge project, it could take years, and I would have to defend it to people who knew a lot more than I did. Not the most appealing prospect for an underconfident, unsure student with an undecided major.
Flash forward almost twenty years and things have changed. In a few weeks, I will officially begin writing a creative nonfiction thesis, hopefully earning me a Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing. As my undergraduate mind guessed, it is indeed a huge project. It means that I have acquired enough skills, according to my university, in the genre of creative nonfiction, and now need to prove myself by, essentially, writing a book.
My first thesis semester begins in January. I’ve allowed for the summer months to work on my project, and plan to finish and defend it next fall. And yes, I will have to defend it to smart writers much more experienced than I. As a low-residency student, I will have to set up a video-chat meeting with my thesis committee and present to them all I know about writing, explain why and how I wrote what I did, and prove that I will go forth and prosper with my newfound literary knowledge.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. That day in the future is built upon today. And today is built upon yesterday. The past year and a half has been a full one. In my studies, I’ve worked with two mentors, attended two residencies, and taken two online courses, all of which offered enlightenment in so many different ways. Through it all, I have somehow managed to be a mother and wife as well.
What I failed to understand in my youth was that when one undertakes a thesis, or parenthood, or any major project, you don’t start at the end, you start at the beginning. You don’t start off with your defense. You start by reading one book. Then a second. You write one essay, then another. You get feedback, you revise. You revise some more. And slowly, you progress. It’s a gradual movement forward, one step after the next.
I admit that in these weeks leading up to my first thesis semester, I am anxious about how I will balance my family life and my work load. But I’m no longer terrified. Nor do I lack confidence or feel undecided. I’ve trekked the long road from there to here one sentence at a time. I’ll simply write the next word and eventually, I’ll get there.
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