It is only two weeks and a day until classes begin again. In the first week I’ll have to meet my supervisor to tell her how I plan to write my dissertation. I’m expected to condense everything I plan to write about down to five hundred words. So, yeah, even in academia I must write a synopsis.

A synopsis is, I find, the most difficult sort of writing. It’s where you take a whole novel and condense everything, without leaving anything important out, into four pages. It has to be good writing, engaging writing, and interesting writing. But it must be impersonal and detached too. I never seem to be able to achieve those conflicting goals.

When it comes to my dissertation, which I will have to turn in at the end of next year, it seems even more daunting. I have two weeks to make sense of my notes and earlier essays. As it’s an undergraduate dissertation I both have to show that I know what I’m talking about, and forward new knowledge.

I spent most of last year locked in an office in a cellar, thinking very little about university. It feels like I suddenly have a lot of catching up to do. And I must have a framework, written down to 500 words, that I have to present in two weeks time.

Mark assures me it’ll be easy. It was easy for him. But he’s in a field that if the maths is right, all he has to do is to grunt. I’m in English literature, and that’s an entirely different thing. We’re supposed to be good that spewing out words.

That said, my dissertation is only going to be around ten thousand words. I can write that in a week if I’m working on a novel. This shouldn’t be difficult. Right? It’s just that academic writing require much, much more than vomiting words onto a page.I actually have to be coherent, and nobody is interested in my opinion. I have to source everything I write.

Perhaps I should just go and see if the McDonald’s down in the town centre has any work. Or maybe I should ring my old employer and ask if I could come back and sell shirts and trousers. How can I condense all I’ve written about to 500 words, yet leave room for work that I haven’t still done? Work which I don’t know about?