My Other Magnum Opus

Apart from the two novels in progress I’ve also authored a more prosaic volume over the past fifteen months or so. And — spit on me now — I’ve decided to self-publish it. I don’t have much capital so it’s only a print run of two — but it’s available in both hardback and softback binding (see photo below).

My MSc Dissertation
Available in Both Hardback and Softback -- My MSc Dissertation

At 17,000 words (not including appendices) it’s a slightly shorter read than the creative works in progress but at least it is finished, although it’s not yet been marked.

For anyone who’s interested in the title it’s:

IT Governance Design: An Application of Problem Oriented Engineering to Enterprise Architecture, TOGAF and SOA Development

When I did the literature search I didn’t find much other work in this general field and my supervisor has raised the possibility of presenting my findings as an academic paper at a conference in Barcelona in the autumn — and now they’re suggesting I consider carrying on my study with a PhD. If this is a hint that my dissertation has earned me a pass then I’m on course to end up by 2013 with three Master’s degrees — an MBA, this MSc and an MA in Creative Writing (although there’s a long way to go with that one yet). Continuing studying seems a bit like overkill but they say learning is lifelong these days — and maybe it will entitle me still to a discounted subscription to The Economist — so there may be some plus points.

The printing and binding process does show how relatively simple it is now to get work into print — I found a specialist thesis printer online and submitted a pdf through their website — although the economics aren’t very good for short-runs — it cost me a lot more than a typical Amazon purchase. Maybe I should produce a Kindle version?

There are some interesting comparisons between the MSc dissertation and creative writing. Enterprise Architecture, the specialist area of IT that I concentrated on, is all about being able to sift through the detail of business process and IT systems and then to arrive at an abstracted, high-level view of the ‘big-picture’ of how everything connects and interacts (if, indeed, it does). It seems a relatively simple discipline but, the literature and evidence suggests, that not many people are able to do it — it’s all about pattern recognition.

In many ways a novel writer needs similar skills — to sustain plot, theme, consistent characters that interact together and so on — but a novel is harder because all the underlying structure is then hidden again under descriptions and dialogue (assuming that the author approaches it in anything like a methodical way).

I was also lucky with my dissertation as I had a lot of guidance from my supervisor and my specialist advisor. My supervisor was a very conscientious and dedicated Italian woman whose fluent but distinctive way of speaking English has helped me along with Kim’s dialogue. (One thing I’ve learned from having had conversations in English with probably hundreds of Germans and other Europeans is that there really isn’t much that marks out a fluent English second language speaker from a native English speaker — except that the second language speaker is usually more precise.) If you have a good supervisor as a mentor and follow their instructions and put the work in then you’ll probably do OK in a dissertation. The same can’t be said for a novel, which is a far more risky and speculative undertaking.

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