Dissertation Update: Week ‘I have no idea’!

Morning all. I slept downstairs last night, because the air was too hot in my room. It’s much cooler in the living room. My back aches a bit because the ‘put u up’ bed isn’t the most comfortable, but it makes a change from spending the night sliding down the bed and getting up by rolling on to the floor. My bed is broken.

But, back to the dissertation.

Where did I get to? Did I tell you I’d sent the complete draft to my dissertation supervisor and asked how I make the good essay excellent? I got a response and ad a two week breakdown? Yes, I think I did.

Right then, week before last I decided to tackle it again and got the introduction done before having another breakdown, then last Wednesday I got up early and was suddenly able to write. 2000 words just flowed. Actually, I did some cutting and pasting from the old essay, adding some stuff, took some other stuff out, and produced something.

Honestly, I wasn’t happy with it, but I sent it to the dissertation supervisor anyway.

Yesterday I got a response. The critique is excellent, I’m ‘nearly there’ but the bibliography needs to be longer, twice as long.

Guess what I spent yesterday evening doing? To be fair, I had referenced books but had forgotten to add them to the bibliography, so it wasn’t much work to add them. Then I had to raid my library for the books that had helped with some of my ideas. The thing is, I pick up information from all sorts of books, articles, web pages, talking to people, etc. and synthesise them into a whole picture. But I can’t necessarily tell you were the individual information came from. It’s a bit of a bugger when I have to provide references and reading suggestions…

Anyway, the bibliography is now twice as long, and it may get longer, I have a few doctoral theses to read that I found on the subject of crime fiction. And I’m sure there were some books I borrowed from the university library last year that should go in there too.

Dissertation Update: Week 10

I am stressed. I think I’ve got the creative part of the dissertation done, but it’s the essay i’m struggling with. I’ve written one, that my supervisor says is ‘good’, but I want excellent. I emailed to ask how I get to excellent from good and he sent me a paragraph of advice, full of words that I can’t make any sense of. I haven’t really done any ‘academic’ English studies for ten years, and I only got as far as ‘AS’ English Literature (I couldn’t afford to do the full ‘A’ Level), so I’m not sure about things like ‘intertextuality’ and ‘a feminist reading’. I can talk about structure and timing, and the traditions of the genre in general terms, but I don’t know how to make it sound intelligent, if that makes any sense?

It all seems a bit too much right now. My sister has a copy of everything and is going to read it to see if she can help me make sense of everything, and I’m having a couple of weeks away from the dissertation, I need some space to think.

I finally have the dissertation guidance sheet that everyone apparently got during last term. But I didn’t. I remember my course colleague mentioning it when I was off one week, and asking the tutor for a copy the next week, but I was fobbed off and never got a copy. The course leader, my supervisor, seemed very short about having to send me it attached to the email I received. I let him know that while everyone else may have had it ‘ages ago’, I hadn’t received any guidance whatsoever. So I finally know what the order of presentation should be and when the hand in is. 19th September is D-Day. I suppose I’d better start saving up for train fare.

As I’m taking a break from dissertation writing to let my brain cogitate on the essay for a bit, there probably won’t be any dissertation updates until August now.

In other news, I’m meeting my support worker this afternoon, my lawn has finally started regrowing, and I got some lovely late birthday gifts from my friends Aimee and Fiona this last week. They know how to keep me happy, and quiet. 😀


Dissertation update: Week 9

I got a bit of feedback from my supervisor earlier in the week on the most recent draft. Still need more of the city in the description. So on Wednesday morning I added 1400 words describing the first trip Lucie and Robbie take from Nettleham to Washingborough adding lots of details about the route and scenery.

Google Maps is a life saver! I’d mostly remembered the route correctly but it helped to have it mapped out with images.

Apparently the essay is good now. I just need to get everything arranged properly for the final presentation, provided my supervisor is happy with the creative piece.

I’m other writing news, I managed a thousand words this morning and a read through of everything I’d written so far of Her Last Death. I’m up to 21949 words now. I’m hoping to reinstate my 1000 words a day policy but it depends on what else is going on. I’m currently achy as hell but I can’t decide why. I think I’m going to do nothing this weekend.

In reading news, I’ve read one of the London Mysteries I’m reviewing a week today, and my copies of Wrecker and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot which I’ll be reviewing later in the month have arrived.

I’m what else I’m doing news, my rainbow draft excluder is coming along nicely, the garden is beginning to pick up and my cross-stitch is looking okay. I’ve been swimming and to the AAF café this week. That’s probably why I ache, I’ve pushed myself a bit. Oh, and next week I meet my support worker!

Dissertation Update: Week 8

No news this week, I sent a slightly altered version to my supervisor last Friday and haven’t heard back yet.

On the creative side, I spent an hour with google maps and satellite images,  and now I have a more precise idea of where in the city Lucie is living and have tried to add details to the manuscript.

On the essay side, I tried again without the ‘I’, and I’m a bit more hopeful about this effort. I’ll get there eventually.

Dissertation Update: Week 7

I’ve had a week off from the dissertation. It was my birthday last Sunday, but I’d had so much on in the preceding days that I mostly ate, napped and read, especially after the anxiety-provoking disaster that was trying to go to Lidl. I’ve had a book shopping spree, and I’m expecting four more books, birthday presents mostly. Also, my book from Tess the Neurodivergent Goddess arrived, so that’s been added to the pile. If you follow me on GoodReads, you’ll have some idea of the number of books I’ve devoured in this last week. It’s very calming. I’m at 49 of 100 books read on my reading challenge.

I have actually done some work on my dissertation today, I made some changes to the essay to remove the ‘I’, and I added some books to the bibliography. I like a good bibliography. All nice and alphabetically ordered. I’m currently reading Odd Girl Out by Laura James, an autistic woman who got her diagnosis as an adult. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences in out experiences. This is one of the books I’ve added to the bibliography. I want Lucie to have the same experiences and responses to situations that a real autistic woman would have, and reading various accounts, both in books and online, has added to my own lived experience in the writing process.

Dissertation Update: Week 6

Some progress has been made since last week. Although I haven’t been writing much.

The dissertation supervisor now likes my villain, and the hints of a darker undertone, but is still holding out on Lucie. He said he knows I think I’m writing a stereotype but people won’t realise she’s autistic unless I do. I think we’re at stalemate on that front.

The other thing he mentioned was the landscape, it still isn’t ‘solid’ enough, and he suggested adding the texture in the passage about Lucie taking a night walk around Lincoln. I need to get back to Lincoln and walk around a bit making notes, I think.

I also need to re-write the essay for the third time. It has to be objective, I need to take the ‘I’ out of it. This could be interesting.

In other Rosie news:

I’ve submitted Hidden Fire to Inspired Quill, an independent, traditional publisher. Inspired Quill was recommended to me last September by one of their authors, at a Book Connectors meet-up.

I have book post! So much book post, because I treat myself to a stack of books once the money the county council owed me arrived. Plus, a book from Authoright, which I will be reviewing for them at some point later in the month. After I make my way through my pile of lovely books. Some of them are actually doing double duty as research for my dissertation, but still. Books! I don’t often get to buy new books, so I’m very happy.

Saturday 16th June marks the first anniversary of the publication of Hidden Fire: I will be at The Crafty Collective Open Day/Craft Fair selling copies of my books. If you’re in North East Lincolnshire, or nearby, come and support a local craft club. We have a raffle! I have donated gift packs of books and bookmarks to the raffle, and some peg bags that I made, to the club’s table. I’ll have a few of my dragons with me.

And now i have to go and collect up all the bits that have blown out of my plastics bin. It’s recycling box day; the box is rather full, and the wind is rather high.

Dissertation Update: Week 5

A couple of days late, I know, but I was busy Tuesday and spent a lot of Wednesday asleep, recovering.

Anyway. I wrote 2000 words about the representation of autistic women in crime fiction, only to be told by my supervisor that I was doing it wrong. So that essay got put to one side and I re-wrote it, covering a range of subjects in relation to my dissertation. I’ve sent that, and an updated draft of the creative piece off on Wednesday morning.

On Sunday, before all that, I got an email with feedback. As usual, the supervisor doesn’t like Lucie or the murderer. I accepted that there was something flat about the murderer, because in the first 13,000 words I’d been concentrating on setting up the situation and establishing Lucie. What I didn’t appreciate was being told Lucie wasn’t recognisably autistic.

I may have been a bit blunt in my response email:

I have written Lucie based on my own, and other women’s experiences of being autistic. If you are unfamiliar with autistic women it may not be immediately obvious that she is, but to those who know or are autistic women, it is. Current representations of autistic women in popular culture are limited to socially-inept autistic savants, an unrealistic stereotype. The vast majority of autistic women are not Sheldon Cooper with breasts and I’m not writing Lucie as such just because the rest of the world are too ignorant to look past stereotypes created by non-autistic people about autistic people. She needs to be realistic, to widen popular representations of autistic women beyond the ‘autistic savant’-type, because there are autistic police officers and to provide a role model for those autistic women who aren’t Saga Noren. That’s what I’m trying to do with this character.


My description of her autistic traits goes beyond the ‘likes pattern and order’ you mentioned:

  • She is described reacting to sensory stimulation in several chapters. Sensory Processing Disorder is a common co-morbid condition, as is anxiety. She mitigates her processing problems with the use of noise-cancelling headphones
  • She stims, tapping and running her fingers across patterns and materials
  • She blocks out visual stimuli in meetings and in busy rooms so that she can concentrate on her work or the meeting by looking at her computer screen and by building her file fort
  • She has hyper focused on the idea that someone at Witham View is the murderer and is ignoring the other lines of enquiry. This is based on her putting together small clues that others have missed, and looking at it from a different angle. Her autism is relevant because it helps her see the case differently.
  • She struggles with social interaction and communication, forgetting her carefully learnt ‘scripts’ when tired or stressed, and oversharing personal information with colleagues. This causes conflict with her colleagues and will be a subplot that evolves through the full length novel. This is where her autism is also relevant.
  • She has a limited sense of danger – wandering around Lincoln, a place she doesn’t know well, in the early hours of the morning to take photographs in the rain because she enjoys photography and needs to relax.
  • She’s blunt, although she’s learn to hold back when dealing with witnesses – for instance in her conversation with Vera. And it is a learnt behaviour, she doesn’t have the instinctive ability to gauge other people that neurotypical people have.

These are recognisably autistic traits. Your response was the equivalent of ‘but you don’t look autistic’, an insulting comment the majority of autistic women hear at least once in their lives that is used to dismiss their experience of autism because it doesn’t fit with the stereotypes.

I have yet to hear back, either about this complaint or my dissertation drafts; I suspect my dissertation supervisor is ignoring me now. I added extra stuff, making it obvious when Lucie was stimming and her anxiety about dealing with work colleagues. I felt like I had to exaggerate to appease the ignorant.

I don’t like humans very much, at times.

Some of you are okay, I suppose.

30 Dogs Sleeping Like Awkward Doofuses - The BarkPost
Not my dog. I found it doing an image search and thought it was cute.

In other news, I went to my first Adult Autism Forum Cafe on Tuesday evening (after going to craft club in the afternoon); the topic was supposed to be ‘confidence’ but I ended up on a table with two other women, we drew trees and talked about yarn. One of them got out her spinning so I got out my crochet. It was fun. I think I’m going to go to the sensory group on the 18th and the Forum on the 19th. Also, I have an appointment with a clinical psychologist and a support worker from the High Functioning Autism Service (I didn’t name it – I don’t like the functioning labels) on Tuesday morning to see what support they can offer. I need to write a list.

Right, it’s 5.15 a.m., and I should try to get back to sleep. The dogs are snoring at me.

Dissertation Update: Week 4

Yes, I am aware that it’s stupidly early in the morning, I had to get up to come down  to the bathroom. And check my bank account. It’s ESA day and I get twitchy if I don’t check the money is in my account as early as I possibly can (after 3 a.m. is about the right time).

Anyway, on to the dissertation.

Continue reading “Dissertation Update: Week 4”

Dissertation Update: Week 3

On Monday I reached 13,000 words. I sent it to my dissertation supervisor and this morning he replied. As expected, he doesn’t like it. Not enough sub-plot and the main character is two-dimensional and isn’t central enough. There’s too much talking and not enough pace.

I’ve got a long list of proofing errors to go through and I’m going to have to do a massive re-write.

Continue reading “Dissertation Update: Week 3”

Dissertation: Week 2

I have been typing up everything I wrote in week one. I still have not finished getting the writing transferred, and I’m on 7194 words. I’ve probably got at least another 1000 words to type up. I have added a few bits, including a whole chapter at the beginning. That’s something that usually happens between drafts 1 and 2. I’m going to spend the coming week continuing to type up my remaining chapters and then go back to hand writing the rest of the story.