Skip to main content

The Diary of a PhD Student: Entry 2

The last time that I mentioned my PhD in a blog post was back at the very end of October, where I promised regular updates and details on the changing nature of my project. The fact that we are now edging towards the end of December, and I’m only just delivering an update to you, is probably all you need to realise that my previous vow hasn’t exactly held strong. Thankfully, the optimism and excitement that I voiced in my last blog post about this is as strong now as it was then, in fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s growing.

From the end of October to the end of November, there was a heck of a lot of reading. I’m gobbling down about two novels a week, and one non-fiction book a week, which I’m fairly happy with. I’ve made a decent dent in the Tony Hill series from Val McDermid, I’ve recently polished off Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby, and now I’m reading Tom Robbins’ Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.

You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m researching now.

In terms of non-fiction, the majority of my research has been based around the psychology of violence and serial killers, which has been sort of difficult. Up until recently, there was a point where I would spend the whole day reading accounts of killers that were so disturbing, I couldn’t dream of even inventing that stuff in fiction, let alone comfortably entertain the idea that these things actually happened. It was taxing reading and, in my sister’s own words, ‘That research is making you paranoid, you know.’

I’m relaying it in a mocking tone but truthfully, she was probably right.

So the shift away from intensive research is certainly a welcome one. And, anyone who follows me on social media will already know this, that shift away from research saw a shift into writing. It was unexpected, and I was absolutely terrified, but this morning after a rather productive session of writing, I hit the 10,000 word mark on my baby-novel (I can’t quite call it a novel yet - I’m just not ready), and that definitely seemed worth blogging about. My manuscript currently stands at 10, 357 words. And I am delighted. From November 27th to December 22nd (today), I’ve managed that total, and that’s a pace that I’m reasonably happy with given that at the end of October, I didn’t even know what my own serial killer’s motives would be, let alone how I was going to communicate those motives throughout my writing.

Given that this is the first draft, I’m being a bit free and easy with how things happen. I have a rough idea of what I want for whatever chapter I’m working on at the time, but beyond that I feel like my main character is making a lot of the decisions for me, and I’m relatively comfortable with that for the time being.

I’ve vowed to take some time off over the Christmas period. I think, since I started the PhD, my family have sort of missed seeing me without a book in my hand, so I have promised them a break. Although, if the past few weeks are anything to go by, I’ll be back in the library on Friday morning…

Merry Christmas!


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake is the recently published novel from Amanda Jennings, released a little earlier this year by the friendly folks over at Orenda Books, and it has been collecting glowing reviews – all of which I have tried to avoid – for weeks on end. Now, having dipped into the book myself, it’s clear to me why. I was around three pages in to this read, in fact, when I turned to my friend next to me and said: ‘Bloody hell, this is going to be a good one.’ The novel follows the story of Bella. A young woman who returns to her family home following the unexpected death of her mother, only to be greeted by a father who is so overcome with guilt and anxiety – perhaps what you’d expect following the loss of a spouse, but certainly not how you’d expect it – that their already strained relationship only worsens in the opening chapters of this book. When Bella’s father, Henry, finally reveals what he’d been holding in for so long, Bella’s world promptly falls apart – and the reader’s heart pr

The Diary of a Whatever I Am Now: Corrupted Hard Drive.

Take a walk with me. We’ll go back to August 2010, late August, when I finally found out that despite my below par A-Level grades, there was a university in the country that was prepared to give me a chance. Praise be to them. Ahead of starting this journey, my generous mother bought me a laptop. A brand spanking new laptop. That my kind and patient sister, and her partner, set up for me and taught me how to use. They deliberately picked something that would suit the university life style – and they were bang on the money in that respect. That laptop lasted I-don’t-care-to-remember how many assignments and a 10,000 word undergraduate dissertation. Let’s not forget, either, that during my first and second summers home from university, I also wrote two “novels” (I use that word in a bland and unimpressed tone, incidentally) that were typed on that same laptop. From there, we moved to postgraduate studies. More assignments and eventually a 25,000 word dissertation. By this point

The Diary of a (former) PhD Student: Now I actually have run out of work.

In case the title of this blog post didn’t give it away, let me clarify: I have handed in my PhD thesis.  I handed it in exactly a week ago, actually, and I would have blogged a brag sooner if not for the fact that the day after my hand-in, a family member was taken into hospital, and the last week has sort of slipped away from me as a result of that. It’s been a while since I gave you an update at all, I know, and the last time we “talked”, I was in this blissfully ignorant place of not having any work to do. Let me catch you up from there:             My readers were wonderful. All of those who read and provided feedback for the book part of the project were insightful, considerate, and careful with their responses. I ironed out technical issues and even one or two final plot holes and so, to those who read the manuscript ahead of hand-in, I cannot and will not ever be able to thank you enough.            My supervisor made me cry. A lot. The “final few twe