I feel like Beowulf, grappling with Grendel in the Mead Hall; only one of us can come out of this alive.
I'm referring, of course, to my writing sample.
I've decided that for one of the programs to which I'm applying, the one that allows two samples, I'm sending a couple of conference papers I've given over the past year, revised and polished, of course. I'm not very worried about this, I know the papers are solid and demonstrate my strengths as a writer-scholar, because of the positive feedback I received at conferences for them.
The other two programs, however, just want one, single, all-out twenty-five page offering. I don't have time to write another 25 pager from scratch - which means I'm going to have to give them a portion of my thesis. And not the same portion I gave last year, either.
The only bonus in all of this is that last year, I just sent the first chapter, in totem, without adding, changing, or even explaining any of it. I thought it would be a great writing sample, and hell, it probably was - if the people reading it had access to all the research I did and the introduction to the thesis that explained what was going on. Unfortunately for my applying self last year, they didn't. Fortunately for my applying self this year, they didn't.
I'm now attempting to wrestle this thing into submission, compiling the introduction and chapter into a single, stand-alone piece.
You would think, since I wrote this and know it back, forth and sideways, this would be a piece of cake; but you would be dead wrong. It's precisely because of my intimate knowledge of this piece, that realigning it is so difficult. Back-breakingly, mind-numbingly difficult - literally. My back and mind are killing me, after I've spent the past seven hours actively engaged in reworking it. How can it take seven hours to rewrite three pages of something I already wrote?? And yet, it did. Three down, twenty-two to go....
And the SOP is still on my shit list, too. One reviewer thinks it says too much, one reviewer says it's not personal enough...and there are many reviewers still to weigh in.
So - anyone applying this time around for the first time, beware - none of this gets any easier the second time around. In fact, I'd almost argue it's worse this time, because I'm all-too-aware of the odds against me this time, whereas last year I was blissfully certain I was a great candidate. Ignorance really, REALLY is bliss. Knowledge is....Beowulf versus Grendel, 2.0
I'll keep you posted on my progress, if there is any...!