Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Winter is coming? Surviving the final months of a PhD

Posted by Amy O'Donnell

At the end of 2012, I officially stopped being a full-time funded PhD student, and re-entered the world of the tax-paying worker (staying here at Newcastle University – thanks for having me!). In theory, of course, this means I should be about to submit my leather bound, gold embossed thesis to some lucky examiners. Sadly, I’m not quite there (although, come April, a couple of eminent academics should beware of the ominous thud through their letterbox).

Apparently, these final months of frantic write-up will be quite the endurance test: the tough hardship of George R.R. Martin’s never-ending winter compared to those halcyon summer days of first and second year studentdom. I’ve been warned that I will basically have to give my children up for adoption, withdraw from polite society and hole myself up in some ivory tower for the interim (which is starting to feel like a pledge to the Night’s Watch but I’ll put the poorly-disguised Game of Thrones references aside for a moment).
 Sorry, one more totally undisguised Game of Thrones reference
In some ways, these warnings are starting to come true. I can’t remember the last weekend I didn’t do at least a day’s work and my school runs are down to the absolute bare minimum (I almost forgot Children in Need costumes!!!). I am constantly thinking about deadlines, drafts and discussion sections (sometimes way too early in the morning for my liking). And yet, I’m not even remotely hating any of this. Far from it. I can honestly say I’m loving my PhD more than ever and, if anything, dreading the whole adventure coming to an end. It’s all finally (mostly) making sense, and of all the elements that comprise the mysterious business of research, writing is definitely my favourite. I’ve also been getting ‘out there’ more, including being lucky enough to enjoy a fantastic conference trip to Barcelona, emboldened by a sense of possibly having something to say at long last.

Of course, the ‘party’ is far from over. About 30,000 words away from being over to be precise, and I intend to enjoy everyone one of them. Returning to Game of Thrones, I read somewhere that there are around 1,500,000 words in the five tomes of the Song of Ice and Fire series so far, and I’ve read and enjoyed most of them. Much like the PhD, all its left me with is a desperate need to see how things finish. So on that note, I’ll leave the final word to the marvellous George R.R. Martin:

“Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.”

1 comment:

  1. Great to read you're not hating it! This has given me some hope for the final months of my write up :)