And So Begins My Dissertation


As I stare at this pile of books (you’re only seeing a fraction), I have to repeat one mantra:

You are doing this in the name of creative writing. 

Okay, sure. I’m aggrandising this a bit. Maybe a lot. Definitely a lot. Anyway, it at least serves as a (somewhat delusional) reason to read 50+ research journals and books.

So far, my proposal to the academic committee has gone well. They seem to be interested in the topic and happy to see me running around and scrounging up whatever dusty old books have been waiting around for decades in the depths of the university library. Since they’ve approved my topic, I’m feeling somewhat confident about explaining it a bit more here.

On the most basic level, I’m studying what makes readers decide whether a book is good or not. If you’re craving the more specific, jargon-filled academic explanation: I’m analysing the popular assertion that the amount and quality of schema refreshment contained within a story can affect reader immersion and overall appreciation.

That’s a mouthful, I know. Imagine reading that out to a room full of people, then explaining why it’s relevant, and you know what last Thursday felt like for me.

Thankfully, now that that’s over, all I have to do is submit my written proposal, read a ton, compare a few pieces of fiction, hack into a few brains, analyse my findings, and voila! A freshly minted lady with an M.A.

*Side Note: Any research volunteers?

What’s most interesting, to me at least, is that my tutor suggested using Goodreads as a source of data collection. I would have never, in my life, imagined this to be academically appropriate. I mean, I’m not complaining. I kind of love Goodreads and am so excited to analyse reviews for evidence of schema activation (nerd).

Of course, the meat of my dissertation will be the analysis of the lovely little group of readers I’ll be collecting. I don’t want to go too much into that in case one of them is reading now, but I promise there will be absolutely no physical probing.

On that note, I should probably get back to reading from this pile of absurdity. Anyone else working on a dissertation right now (and possibly crying inside)?

Also, fellow writers: what do you think about using cognitive linguistics to improve your craft? Have you read about it, studied it, or thought it was stupid and just kept writing? Let me know in the comments 😀


4 responses to “And So Begins My Dissertation”

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