Thursday, 28 July 2011

The loneliness of the long-distance writer... or misery loves company?

I will hand in my PhD thesis this September. It is official. I handed in a form today that says as much.

Right now, two months seems like both an incredibly long time to be refining a document and an incredibly short time to finish everything off satisfactorily. Having spent July intensively writing up my thesis work (then getting ill, then getting back to the intensive write-up), I'm starting to produce something that I feel really proud of, slightly sick of and which continually surprises me with where it takes me, even now that all the data is collected and collated.

What has really surprised me during this time is the little community of 'writer-uppers' and 'finishers' that has developed around me.

I'd expected that these few last months of PhD would be lonely, spent mostly in front of a computer screen. That has turned out to be half true: the computer screen and I have become extremely well acquainted.

But... there seems to be so many people around me who are in the same boat, aiming for that September deadline. Even those not doing PhDs seem to be getting into the act, with contracts finishing in September, new jobs starting then, gig calendars starting to look towards October, etc. If I'm stressing about a particular problem in the thesis, or going slightly numb from trying to turn a dry set of numbers into some fascinating facts, then I don't have far to look before I find someone who can emphathise, or someone for a tea break.

So despite the title of this blog post, the tail end of the PhD tale isn't turning out to be like the loneliness of the long distance runner, bravely struggling on alone in the face of all adversity and difficulty. In all honesty it hasn't been that miserable either - in fact on occasion it has even been... almost... enjoyable! (I may have to keep reminding myself of that sometimes in the near future though?)

So, enough procrastination - it's back to the dry sets of numbers then. 2 months and counting till hand-in and the start of the next challenge.

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