My dissertation goes in fits and starts. I'm not sure if it has prostate issues...or if it's a symptom of juggling all of the various things I need to do. I look at the calendar and know I'll be over the hump by Christmas---three out of five chapters done (and the ones which take the most time and paper, at that). It's all of the pre-planning for the project...building my case for why my question is worthy of investigation.
It's an incredibly tedious process. I went to the dermatologist earlier this week and when asked for my hobbies, all I said was "Writing my dissertation." Seriously, I'm not sure what I will do with my "free time" when this beast is done. It's not the "Who cares?" part of constructing the paper which takes so much time and headspace, it's the "Who says?" issue of tracking down all of the various pieces of published research that have come before mine. After all, I'm just a lowly grad student. Nobody really cares what I have to say on the topic...at least not until my degree is finished.
The funny part is seeing the intersection of the theory with what occurs in my classroom. A lot of my research is about student motivation. The prevailing idea is that kids will adopt one of two orientations: mastery (learning for the sake of learning) or performance (learning for a reward). Within those, kids may either adopt positive behaviors (approach) or negative ones (avoidance). As I talked with students last week about their progress at the quarter, I could almost peg each kid's motivational orientation just by talking to them. Procrastinator? Classic avoidance. Trying to get into Running Start next year? Hey, you're into performance goals. And so on. The classroom environment I've worked to create is one of mastery. How kids are adopting that as time goes on is interesting to watch. Certainly my own students won't be involved in my research---but it is an interesting anecdotal phenomenon for me.
For now, it is back to my paper. The supporting research for chapter two is all organized and ready to write about. I'm about one-quarter of the way done with the writing, but certainly starting the downhill slide. All of the hard work hitting the books is done. I just have to make some sense out of it for other people. In a year, the finishing touches will go on after my committee has ripped it to shreds and asked for a rebuild. And in two years? Who knows. At the moment, I'm more about the little details than the big picture.