Monday, 31 March 2008

Final post for now

Yesterday the sun shone and I spent the whole day in the garden--and now I can feel all my muscles.

Today I have exactly 6 months left of my PhD.

I spent the morning arranging travel arrangements to Aldeburgh to visit the Britten-Pears archive for the 7th and 8th of April, the last major archive trip I think I'll have time for before the PhD finishes (quite an effort by public transport, but possible!).  (The picture is taken in the garden of the Library, with Mitchell whose four volume Benjamin Britten: Letters from a Life is pretty much my text book).  I've also been ringing Royal Mail trying to trace a package including the Collected Poems of Henry Reed which I need for an article for British Writers, and arranging handouts, visual aids and paperwork for the class tomorrow. And I've been looking at the jobs on  

Looking back over the last month I see I've written more than 10,000 words of my thesis, finished another chapter, spend lots of time using on-line resources and spending vast sums in bookshops (particularly on CDs--including the utterly fabulous Dylan Thomas Caedmon Collection, 11 CDs of the bard's symphonic recitals of his own poetry and others'), but no time in the library.  I've been to a conference, been on holiday, and arranged to go away again to an archive.  I've done hours of admin, and tidied up my study four times--but of course you can still barely pick your way into it via the piles of books, papers and desks.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and have bought what my husband calls 'the pedant's guide' to proof-reading, OUP's New Hart's Rules.   

I hope this research diary was helpful for you, it has been interesting for me!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Back to work

Five days away, no books, one newspaper, one magazine--bliss!  

And now back to the grind-stone.  Today I wrote just over 1000 words and did two loads of washing.  

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Happy Easter

On Thursday, just before 11 pm, I sent off chapter 3 to my supervisor.  

Somehow I ought to be feeling more pleased about it, but mainly I feel tired, and flu-y and a bit deflated.  And instead of feeling like I can go on holiday with a clear conscience, all the things I've left hanging while I wrote are now crowding in...

And today the fence blew down, and I've been watching horizontal hail turn to horizontal snow.    It's wonderfully mesmeric.  And tomorrow I'm getting on a plane to Amsterdam, and I plan to do nothing but eat, sleep, drink and only if I can be bothered look at great works of art and Dutch architecture.  

I'll be back in a week a different person.

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Yesterday I spent the whole day going through my chapter with a red pen, then typing up the corrections, then printing it out again and going through my chapter with a red pen, then typing up the corrections.

This morning I am still typing up the corrections, after which I will print it out again and go through it with a red pen--or perhaps get my husband to go through it with a red pen.  

Then I will type up the corrections.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

On and off

As you might have gathered by now, I write madly, from dawn till midnight, and then I'll have two days doing other things (second jobs, cleaning the house, seeing friends, reading trashy novels, paying bills or planning classes) where I won't write anything, or even get in spitting distance of my desk.  

Other people who completed on time sat down every day at 9am, and stayed at their desk till they wrote 750-1000 words.  

The main thing seems to be to write regularly--whether that means every day, or spread over a week.  And that is about writing and not just sitting at your desk staring at the cursor blinking.   Bad text is better than no text.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

3,500 words today.

The title says it all.  But I've barely begun to talk about Stevie Smith.  Panic and elation in unequal measures (elation is obviously winning right now!)

Spring in my step

I've been working on the questionnaire I'm about to send out to you all.  It's a way for you to think about how you learn, how you best process information.  As well as the questionnaire that will soon arrive in your inbox, you might like to look at the VARK questionnaire.

I'm your typical academic.   I learn best by reading, only know what I think when I've written it, and like anaylsis, logical structures, books, experts, facts, details, lectures, and asking questions.

It's worth thinking about these things, as sometimes our problems are caused by not paying attention to our style , and trying to learn the way that suits our supervisor, our indeed our module leader...  (And sometimes writing and thinking blocks are best dealt with by leaving it behind and spending an hour in the garden--particularly now it's spring!).