The favorite spot was the far corner reserved for the rows and rows of book shelves filled solidly with black bound - boring looking - thesis' of all the former doctorate students.
I pulled out one or two to look at the titles and knew there wasn't a hope of anyone ever wanting to read it willingly. It would only have be paid professors of the university who would have the motivation and the fortitude to tackle the reams and reams of verbiage.
But yet my son would look at them with entirely different eyes. I didn't know it at the time, but his primary goal was to write one of those unbearably boring books.
We were visualizing. It is an important exercise.
To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen. - ― Stephen Richards
And many years later - he has his very own boring thesis, languishing idly on one of those forgotten shelves in that same library. And even though I haven't read it word for word, I am extremely proud of it. And I am in awe of his accomplishment.
What is a thesis? And why is it so important even if no one will ever read it?
Writing a thesis creates connections because publishing a thesis demands a team. Secondly a thesis demands original thinking. Even though there is nothing new under the sun, the writing exercise, research, and required processing will result eventually in a unique piece of work. There is simply a lot of good learning, organizing and reflection that goes into a published work of any type of writing.
"Finally, the feeling of holding your completed thesis in your hand on the due date is one that is hard to surpass; it is a true sense of accomplishment that makes all the invested effort seem worth it." (Gary Barkin '86)
This was my first realization that a piece of published writing doesn't need an audience to be of value. It needs a team - not an audience. There is a big difference.
As I've said many times in this blog already, there was something different in the publishing of my latest book, This Mortal Coil. The feelings after were different. I didn't experience the exhilaration of "book publishing" as I did with the others in the same way. Most noticeable was the sense of relief - which I imagine to be more like a visit to a confessional, more like a psychiatrist's couch, more like the practice of Zen raking or even talking to an Executive Coach,exploring the past, connecting the dots, organizing the facts in a new way, scheming a new path and then moving through. In each of these therapeutic practices, there is someone else involved. There is an outward expression of the inner workings.
Just like in art, the painting needs to be framed and hung to feel completed.
A thesis needs to be written, processed through a team, then bound and put on a shelf.
That is exactly what I did with my book.
Now why does that have to be limited to the university setting?
My realization - as writers we don't need to write best-sellers to feel satisfied and fulfilled. We don't need a huge audience to feel heard. We don't even need to be great writers to write a book.
But - then again we can't be closet writers or bottom-drawer novelists - we do need to take the risk of an outward expression of that which lies within.
For that we need a team of two and an audience of one - at the very least.
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
― Graham Greene