Friday, 6 May 2016

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... 

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