I warn readers this is a not particularly interesting blog post (not that I'm suggesting many of them are what you'd term 'fascinating') but I decided I'd written very little about the actual PhD in a while.
So, after a Summer spent locked away with the thesis-and by the way what joker decided to give us the warmest Summer in years while I was chained, somewhat sweatily I must say, to my computer? I have produced what could be considered a full draft.
Woo! Yay! Rejoice! Etc..etc...
The full draft comprises of some chapters that have been written and redrafted many times over and is structurally and argument-wise pretty close to how I hope it will stay. I refined my argument in this draft and while I know there are points it isn't that clear, I know what it should be now, which is most of the battle. There are bits where, no the theory isn't strong but for me I work from my 'evidence' back to theory, not the other way around. As Mr Sherlock Holmes said "It is a Capitol mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts" and while there are a few people (my supervisors included I think) who would rather I wrote everything through/to suit a theory, frankly tough. I'm a historian, you find evidence first then you analyse it, not the other way around.
Anyway I digress, theory will do that to you. I have a good solid draft that even has refernces in it! And it's at a point where it needs outside input. Thankfully my supervisor is also in agreement and we agreed I'd hand it over at the end of the month, so some more edits, throwing a bit more theory at it and checking some references and then I give it away for a bit. It's a bit terrifying having been "alone" with it for months and hoping that it doesn't get entirely ripped to shreds in the process, but that will move things forward.
Off the back of that, then we should get a sense of the amount of work and timescale needed to, say it quietly, finish the thing. That's of particular importance to me, not least in wanting to get the hell out of PhD land, but also because I came very close to having to give up this summer, again the woes of the self funded PhD student rear their head. There is no teaching work this year for me, which was not entirely a surprise but still a blow, and to cap it off I lost my other job, which though a paltry amount of money was just enough to keep my head above water. For a couple of weeks I seriously considered suspending or taking a break at least because with no income there is no way I could sustain another, 6, 9, 12 months. For the moment I'm hanging on in the hope there will be good news in terms of timescale, if the news is bad it's certainly an extended break for me. It's incredible at the age of 29, that the difference between a minimum wage job giving me an average of £40 a week was so significant in my carrying on. And the irony, oh the irony that I was one week, just one week from finishing that draft when this happened.
In much lighter better news, I got my first publication in my grubby little hands this summer. A chapter in an edited collection on Iain Banks (sadly poorly timed but has been in process for over two years) On a topic pretty far from my main study but one I'm really proud of. I have other publications in progress, three on Sherlock Holmes, one on Frankenstein. I love the diversity of the work I've managed to do, and that so far I've not been restricted to just my PhD topics. Mainly because if I didn't get to present and write on Holmes and other things I think I'd have lost my mind (well what's left of it). I also got the great news yesterday that I've had my paper for the Fan Studies Network Conference accepted, this one I'm really excited about.
So that's my PhD round up. Yes it's been a long stressful and quite lonely summer. Yes I'm in dire need of a holiday (though not likely to get one soon!) But it was always going to be a really shitty time this summer. Was it more shitty than I expected? yes, in terms of things out of my control and just how long a summer it has been. But I'm pleased and proud of the work I've done so I can't ask for much more.
Cross fingers, toes and anything else you can cross that this is really heading towards the home stretch now. Mainly because if I spend another summer locked away I may not be let back out....