Thesis (Linfield Access)
Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing
English Language and Literature | Fiction
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of P.E. has been in the works for so long that I honestly can't remember where the original idea came from. I started writing it during the summer after my freshman year; I can picture myself sitting on the couch at my parents' house, typing on my laptop at 2 am (because I do my best work after the rest of the world goes to sleep.) Since then, my manuscript has been changed and revised and improved so many times- I look back at the first draft and I hardly recognize it.
I started this project early in my college career, so unlike most creative writing majors, I not only came into the thesis class with an idea but also with a completed first draft. Instead of writing another novel, I decided to undertake a large-scale revision of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of P.E. I worked with Anna Keesey in the English department to learn about revising on a structural level, then a sentence level, then word by word. Anna's feedback and comments on my thesis were invaluable, and I am indebted to her for all her assistance.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of P.E. is a middle grade, juvenile fiction, school-and-family novel, which means that its audience does not include my classmates or professors. It is a novel meant for ages 10-12, and as I was writing, I really focused on getting that 12-year-old voice correct. It's been a few years since I was twelve, however, so I am very thankful for my young friends who allowed me to see a part of their lives and understand once again what it means to be in seventh grade. In listening to you and getting feedback about my dialogue and situations, I have been able to make my plot and characters more realistic, and for that I am very grateful.
I don't like to quantify or identify the themes of this thesis, primarily because I think that writers who try to "preach" in juvenile fiction don't tend to go far, but if there is one take-away from Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of P.E., I hope it will be this: our circumstances can define us, or we can define them. If we let ourselves use our environments as an excuse, we will never free ourselves from those chains. Jessi's circumstances and eventual reaction to those circumstances proves that we can't dodge the curveballs that life throws at us, but we can catch them and keep going.
Mills, Rachel, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of P. E." (2011). Senior Theses. 6.