Committee Meetings, Experiments, and Thesis-ing! Oh My!

I had a committee meeting on Monday. It actually went fairly well. I was very worried about it because I haven't made much progress over the past 8 months (the meeting was delayed because of extenuating circumstances, see: the month of March). I put together my presentation outlining what I've been doing during this time. It added up to about 22 slides showing a variety of results (ranging from good to bad). My committee didn't seem too unhappy and they were more than willing to sign off on the "making adequate progress" line. Overall, I considered it a not bad meeting.

However, all of my committee member brought up the dreaded, "When do you think you'll graduate?" question. It would appear that they have not read The Guide to Proper Grad School Etiquette. Advisor answered their question with, "About next summer." This was news to me. I considered next summer at the earliest, if every thing went according to plan. I thought a more realistic goal was next fall-- 2010 (in fact, I was told that this was a more realistic goal. I don't know why Advisor said next summer? 5.5 years is about average, so I don't think my taking that long would make him look bad. I must be the first grad student ever who was horrified to learn that his/her advisor thought they could graduate earlier than they thought. But I digress. A lot.). This has led to a minor freak out on my behalf. I've got a list of things-- about 3 pages long-- of experiments to do before I graduate. The majority of my freak out has centered around the following two thoughts: (1) To get all this done by next summer, everything has to go perfectly and I can never leave the lab, and (2) If I take longer than next summer, will my committee be angry? I'm trying to take deep breaths and picture a happy place.

Along those same lines, Advisor wants me to start writing. He's wanted me to start writing since I joined the lab. I hate writing. A. Lot. So, I haven't taken him up on his advice. Now, he wants me to turn in the draft of one of my chapters by Friday. It's not too unreasonable because I have most of it written (I had a paper published on this project, so I just have to add some stuff and format it), but isn't it a bit premature to start writing a year before I have any hope of graduating? Or heck, even before I have a projected graduation date? Or before I have all the data?