If all had gone to plan….

Then I would have been submitting my PhD tomorrow, had my viva, and be enjoying a well-deserved break by Easter time.  As we know, I had to take four months out to get myself sorted health-wise.

The last month has been very up-and-down, the high points being really productive over Christmas, the low points being a crippling writer’s block which stopped me putting finger to keyboard for nearly a fortnight.  I worked through why this might have happened with my supervisor, and with his agreement got feedback on some old, and new writing from another, independent supervisor who provided reassurance, as well as some suggestions for how it could be improved.

I also had a pretty major panic when I realised that Dropbox, the service that keeps all my machines synchronised, had stopped running on my laptop, so I had been working on two different versions of my thesis on two different machines.  The Microsoft Word functionality to spot the differences was less than useless, certainly when comparing a 164 page document.  In reality, once I had scraped myself off the ceiling, the changed were minimal.

I have about 12,500 words, and the hardest part of the thesis to write. There is a cunning plan to help me do this, and in theory with my 500 words/day average I should have plenty of time, but I know all too well that a migraine can lay me out for a weekend.

It’s also been good to hear that some people in my cohort are indeed close to submission, at least of their draft thesis, spot on the scheduled four years.  It’s a good job that they are good friends, otherwise I may have a spot of jealousy about this.  What I am struggling with is the balance with work, PhD, family and some sort of social life.  People are treading on eggshells around me, and I can see them holding their breath when they ask ‘How’s the PhD?’

Too many times in the last month I’ve considered quitting, but I’m determined now to see this through and submit something at the end of May.  I don’t think the journey will be over then, but submission has to be a major milestone doesn’t it?

I’ve spent too much time really staring at this (admittedly very nice) iMac screen, it’ll be nice to go back to some of my hobbies including creative writing, reading my backlog of fiction and maybe getting one of these ‘lives’ that I’ve heard so much about.

Well, this isn’t getting the word count up, so had better crack on.



  1. Gill

    Don’t you dare even think about quitting. Think of all you have done since you resumed your studies back in those days when we worked in Wednesbury and how much it has changed your life. I know you have some dark days but I also know you can do this. So stop beating yourself up and believe in yourself the way the rest of us do.

  2. michaelatrisktopics

    Sorry to see that you get migraines. I get them, too, about three a week of various severity. We’ve recently learned that our <<2 year old also gets them. At least she's not writing a research paper! 8^)

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