I talked to Blackwood on Friday. Of course Thursday's meeting was on my mind, but I wasn't really sure how accurate the grad secretary's representations were. It's her job to scare us, and she's good at it, and I understand her reasons for doing so, but she presumably is not aware of the status of our individual projects, so what she said may or may not apply to all of us. Blackwood was not encouraging. His first question for me was, "How important is it for you to graduate in August?"
Here's the thing: is it important for me to graduate in August the way it's important for someone who's committed to a PhD program that starts in September, or who's gotten a job offer contingent on their receiving their degree, or who simply can't afford any more time in school? No. In theory, I could take the full five years if I wanted to. But in a way, that's why I haven't gotten it done. There's not outside pressure, no deadline beyond the departmental five-year limit, which I am not yet approaching. If I give up on August graduation, it will certainly remove the pressure I feel. But knowing that I have until December to get it done, I will inevitably put it off again, and find myself in the same position when the next set of deadlines come up. For now, I have to act as if I'm going to graduate in August, because if I don't have those deadlines to contend with, I'm never going to get this done.
On the other hand, I don't want to put pressure on my committee; it's not their fault that I'm so close to the deadline. Not that they would pass me if I didn't deserve it, but I don't want to unduly burden them with a lot of drafts and revisions in a short amount of time.
Ultimately, Blackwood agreed to wait and see what I come up with in the next two or three weeks. He's obviously concerned that he hasn't seen any of my draft yet, but he's still open to the possibility that the first draft will be good enough that I would be able to make revisions in time to meet the defense deadline. He thinks it will be obvious within the first ten days of May whether it's going to happen or not; I'm still holding out for a later decision. So, assuming that the 23rd is my deadline, here's today's score: