Skip to main content

The Diary of a PhD Student: Brick by boring, editorial, brick

There is a delicious irony hidden somewhere in the fact that my last PhD-related blog post loosely promised that I was getting better at blogging, having released two updates in two weeks... The irony being that I made that statement nearly two months ago and, since then, my blog has been a PhD-free zone. So, maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. Or maybe I’ve been having a PhD-wobble, of sorts, which is something – I hope/think/know – the majority of fellow students and writers alike will be able to empathise with. And it surely, hopefully, must, go some way towards explaining my lack of updates over the past few weeks.

Now I’m looking back over my last blog post – where I detailed the beginnings of an editing process that I at the time felt quite proud of – and I’m thinking: ‘Ugh, how stupid you were to be so goddamn positive about this whole mess.’

But I’m having to shout these words quite loudly to myself on account of being so deeply buried beneath the ongoing second draft of my book, that I can barely hear myself think. Which is totally normal. Right?


This is a short and (bitter)sweet update by comparison to my previous one, because I really am buried beneath the second draft and on a day to day basis you can find me bouncing between enthused and overwhelmed. However, in the interest of documenting the lighter side of this whole editing journey – yes, there is a lighter side, honest – the plans that I was putting in place two months ago have actually worked. Or at least, they’re working so far.

My dining room, at present, resembles an old-style detective flick with mind maps and character sketches loosely attached to each other, some of which are tacked to a redraft of the timeline for the second draft of the book. For the most part, it looks a little like my creative innards have exploded over the wall. But it’s bloody effective. Before the editorial panic set in I managed to dismantle the book and now, with the help of more charts and page reference numbers than I can even remember putting together (God bless past-Charley and her hyper-organised state at the time), I am stitching the book back together one chapter at a time and adding extra stuffing as and when appropriate.

My main issue is character compartmentalisation. Which isn’t anything at all to do with the editing process exclusively – because I remember having this issue during the first write of the book, as well – so much as it is to do with the whole book. Seriously, a first person narrative as a character who is uncomfortably different to your own psyche, which you nevertheless have to maintain for hours at a time? Who has an easy answer for dealing with that? Answers on a postcard, please, because I could do with knowing as early as yesterday.

I’ve spent just over two hours on the book today and, after five straight hours on it yesterday, I feel like I’m a little maxed out with being someone. I have my charts and highlighters at the ready for tomorrow morning – what a way to spend a Saturday, eh – and until then, I’ll be hidden in a corner with a book if anyone needs me.

To those writing, enjoy, and to those editing, you’re in my prayers... 


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