In an idle moment, I word counted my phd files. Sad but true. The total was a shock. Notes on the literature review, action research log, TELEDA reflections, random thoughts, unfinished blog posts – all amounted to hundreds of thousands of words. Like googling yourself, it was an experience both positive and negative. Trying not to think about the life I could have had, it raised issues like how many backups are enough, do I trust the cloud and why can’t I have a bigger H Drive? The real ‘omg’ moment was realising I’ve already written my thesis – at least seven times over.
I have the words. I’m sure most of them are the right words. Now they need putting in an acceptable order.
I’ve never been good at boundaries. Fridges not made for half empty bottles. For me anyway. Better not open the box of chocolates or uncork the wine unless you’re in for the duration. I’ve started so I’ll finish. Although it works less well with words. For me, they just go on and on and on….
There’s a danger my thesis could ramble on indefinitely so I’ve been giving some thought to containing it. I like structures but I’m an activist. An atypical contradiction. Always diving in without enough preparation. My writing is rarely planned. It just happens. I know it’s not the best way to work but I also know some drastic decisions are needed. THE END needs to be in sight. There are other writing projects to do. My PhD moved in and for a while it was ok but now it’s like a house guest who’s outstayed their welcome. The relationship is not so good. Nor salvageable. I’ve done everything I can. Examined the literature (never enough) collected my data (not quite what I expected). Now I need a plan. Something which turns all this work into chapters. I need a thesis road map. From here to there. With clear signposts and a vehicle which matches the terrain. Without some clearly definable direction and limits this will go on and on….
Somewhere in all the How To Survive books, I’ve read a Phd is a means to an end. A lesson in getting up close and personal with research tools and tribulations. It’s about finding your own perspective. There’s no escape from the ‘…isms’ and ‘…visms’ or exclusive language of onts and epists but I’ve spent long enough grappling with the ‘…ologies’ or getting deliciously sidetracked*. Every time I go online I find a path less travelled. I have to STOP NOW and think about putting together what I already have.
* For example The Craft, Practice and Possibility of Poetry in Educational Research by Melisa Cahnmann in Educational Researcher for an alternative approach to academic writing.
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