Sunday, September 9, 2012

deep in conversation

I've had very little time to blog for the past month, because I've been busy listening in on ancient conversations. What a joy it's been to dig around in the library and unearth treasures old and new! After two months of a rather intense schedule of research and writing, I've produced a draft of my first full-length dissertation chapter. Though I'm still waiting to fill a few holes (once books arrive from other libraries) and edit the final project, it feels so good to have the bulk of the work done.

Here's a glimpse of what it takes to write a dissertation chapter (now that I know!):

Step One: Listen to Lots of Voices (and take good notes)

Step Two: Get Organized

Step Three: Choose Conversation Partners

Step Four: Write and Write until the Conversation is Finished

Step Five: Revise and Submit

Ironically, when I attended Curriculum Night at Eliana's Middle School this past week, her Music teacher was describing the five steps of the Creative Process. I frantically wrote them down, delighted to find that I had intuitively been following these steps in order to write this chapter: Input, Finding Potential, Reorganization, Production, and Evaluation. First, I had input from hundreds of sources. In my case I switched steps two and three because I had to organize my sources into categories before I could choose conversation partners (i.e. 'find potential') to represent each point of view. I'm happy to report that I found LOTS of potential this summer, tucked away in obscure places like the Shepherd of Hermas, the writings of St. Bonaventure, and the Pesikta Rabbati. It was fun to discover friends all across history! The writing process sent me back to the stacks many times in search of clarification of various points of view. But I'm now nearing the end of the process, and I have 60 pages written, and lots of new friends. What a privilege to join the conversation!


  1. Congrats on the first chapter, Carmen! Way to go, girl!

  2. Carmen, I so enjoy your blog. You're the first doctoral student I know who takes time to help us 'laypeople' understand the process of writing a dissertation. My M.A.B.S. will be my terminal degree, so I'm enjoying being an armchair witness to your degree program. It was fun to sit with your family at the picnic yesterday!

  3. Thanks, ladies!

    Maggie, it's a blessing to watch you as well. Thanks for modeling the value of life-long learning!

    And Lindsay, I'm enjoying your blog. Discipleship has 90% to do with sharing life together and 10% to formal study. It's great to have that reminder on a regular basis. Thanks for your transparency.

    Blessings to both of you,