Two Things I Learnt While Editing My Thesis

The first was pointed out by my supervisors.  I had overdosed on the word ‘arguably’.  For some reason I must have read that it was a good term at some point.  My supervisors pointed out that it is fluff, it obscures my argument, that I do have things that I say but that ‘arguably’ veils it, that I hedge.  This is because I often see things in many ways, from many perspectives, am full of empathy for the other (plus a fair bit of self-doubt in there).  However.  I just did Apple-F, find all, and cut all of the arguablys.  Radical.  The argument was suddenly there, I was suddenly saying strong statements.  Kind of like the ole’ creative writing chestnut: show, don’t tell.  Just do the argument, don’t say arguably.  I think it was something about worrying if the whole two reader/examiners that I will have may disagree, therefore I was putting in ‘arguably’.  But they’ll disagree if they want to anyway.  That’s why it’s called an argument.  Why it is an argument.  Ok, after mmmm 12 years of academic study, I think I am finding a way that I can ‘do’ argument.

I noticed that Christopher Hitchen’s posthumous collection of essays is titled “Arguably”.  Now I’m a sudden ex-arguably user, I feel quite allergic to any passive “arguably”.  Quite holier than thou.

The second lesson is cutting.  Wow.  Anytime I have a doubt about a paragraph, line (which happens because they are often from 2.5 or 3.2 years ago, therefore may be repetitious, or saying similar things in worse ways), I just cut it.  Again, sudden clarity.  It just didn’t need to be there.  Instead of wrestling, cut it!  

There you go.  May it help others:)

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