Is it really a full draft if it doesn’t have a conclusion?
Yesterday I put an end to several weeks of frantic work by putting my introduction, literature review, and all of my chapters into one big document and emailing it to my supervisor. It’s a full draft in the sense that a) it says everything I would want to say if there wasn’t a word limit and b) I’ve done virtually all of the corrections suggested for each chapter draft as it was written. There were a couple of things I couldn’t do because they involved publications I couldn’t identify/get hold of, or excessive faffing for unfocused results.
I haven’t done a conclusion yet though, and there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that I did actually try to write one, but it was missing a certain je ne sais quoi, possibly because I was rushing it and cobbling it together without really paying attention to quality. The second is that it would be a conclusion for the 95,926 words, and deleting 20,000+ words (not only to get under the word count, but make room for the conclusion) would be likely to mean that the conclusion would massive editing later down the line anyway. So I’ll do without for now and do a better job later.
How am I going to delete 20,000 words? One thing I’m thinking of doing is deleting most of my chapter on parent-child relationships. It’s very interesting, and will probably do very well as a journal article, but it’s not really that relevant to the only-child stereotypes I’m tackling. The stereotypes simply don’t warrant 10,000 words on reasons for good and bad relationships with parents, or how relationships changed over time. The only things from that chapter that are really relevant are triangular relationships between only children and their parents, and how some only-child girls were raised with a bit of extra gender freedom, because they’re actually part of the stereotype. I was even thinking of deleting the chapter before I sent the full draft, but I figured it would stress me out even more, and that I’d ask my supervisor’s opinion before getting rid.
The rest, I guess, will have to be pruning of examples. I want to give as many of my only children a chance to be represented as possible, but some stories contribute less than others, and may have to go. I’m sure my literature review can be cut back a bit more, too - I have already edited it, but I was quite cautious about it. Hopefully my draft will come back with lots of slashes through things I simply don’t need!
In the meantime, it’s now the holidays for me. Hooray! It’s going to be nice not to have to think about my thesis as intensely as I have the past few weeks, as the main body of it is out of my hands now. It will also be nice to have a break from teaching, which takes up a lot of my energy. My plan for the next four weeks is to go to the Social History Society conference next week (which I’m very excited about), mark my students’ essays (I like marking, so this is actually a treat), do the reading that was too faffy to do (easier to read semi-aimlessly when you’re not on a deadline), and compile the biographical dictionary for my appendix (boring and tedious). And hope that it’s mostly a case of deleting things from my thesis rather than making major changes to it.