A post in which the beleaguered PhD student shamelessly begs for words of encouragement

Otherwise what’s this blog for, right? (Not that I don’t appreciate those words of encouragement already given.)

Had been feeling stunningly optomistic for the past few days, and made good progress editing my introduction and chapter five. Was combing through chapter five this morning, thinking yes, this is actually going to be quite good.

Then I got some more feedback on chapter four, which deflated my happy balloon. Agh. I’ve been trying to write this particular chapter for almost three years now. Boo.

And I need to have another good go at chapter one, which is sort of an extension of my introduction, and also hasn’t been touched for nearly two years.

Anyway. Can I do it? Yes I can.

(If you are all very nice to me I will post a picture of one of the very cool chimneys from the old mills on the canal.)


11 thoughts on “A post in which the beleaguered PhD student shamelessly begs for words of encouragement

  1. Dear meli,

    You are a completely inspiring individual. I love the way you write, I love the way you think.
    I imagine when you confront these chapters at some distance from when you first wrote them, they will just write themselves,
    having seen one glorious snippet, (yes, I know, privileged) I can honestly say that I think it will be quite some dissertation.

    As someone who hurls great chunks of nonsense into a big fat lump and then takes months to untangle them into some kind of legible order, I find myself thinking from time to time,
    what WOULD Miss meli say about this great mess?


    Just saying, chimney or no chimney.

  2. Oh Mel, fear not it will be fine in the end. You can do it you know you can. Chin up as we British say!

    You write so well it can’t help but be fabulous.

    A picture of the chimney would be cool!!

    lots of love and encouragement

    Lizzie x

  3. Well, writing a PhD can be one of the most lonely things a person can do, but you seem to have brilliant support all round. Criticism hurts, no doubt, and slows you down, but it is absolutely about helping you write the best PhD you can. If they didn’t think you were capable of making improvements, they wouldn’t be suggesting them, is my guess. So take a deep breath, and have another go: you’ll get there!

  4. I hear you! I am fretting myself over a piece of writing this evening. You will do great. Some days are harder than other days; if you need to, break early and have a good sleep, and give it another go tomorrow.

  5. What more can I add?! I think I’ll ring instead. You’re great at persevering so just hang in and keep going and it will happen. Sounds like you have made great progress on the intro and Chapter 5 so there is that much less to do now. x R

  6. wow – that worked a treat. THANKS GUYS!!!

    the sun has even come out to cheer me along today and i will make this wicked chapter look pretty by friday. or at least prettier.

  7. Meli, when I write a novel there’s always a point quite late on where I despair completely about what a mess it is and how really the whole thing is just crappy. This is an essential precursor to the next phase, which involves some simple problem solving (usually literally simplifying the story etc) to make it much much better. I had exactly the same experience writing my thesis, and though it was a bit more overwhelming, I realised that the process was actually the same, tightening the bolts, removing excess baggage, making the whole thing more damn seaworthy.

    You’re almost there!

  8. thanks for that penni. yes, i know that feeling too. it happened with my masters and honours theses. and most of my phd chapters, too. it’s so funny looking over them all again to smooth them into one coherent story. i must have learnt a lot over the past three years cos some of those early chapters are just embarrassing. but you’re right – it won’t take too much to click them into place.

  9. I know I’m late in replying, but I had to throw in my two cents. I admire and look up to you for all you’ve done and all you have yet to accomplish! *big hugs* I always think about the advice and encouragement you’ve given me when I’m working on new papers.

  10. aw, thanks car, that is very sweet! it’s funny, being in leeds at this time of year and catching the train in all the time really reminds my of three years ago, when i was just starting out, and sitting in on the medievalism subject, and having lunch with all you lovely MA girls. x

  11. Hi Meli! Sorry I didn’t reply to this earlier — totally missed it what with the new doglet taking up 101% of attention and sleep.
    Penni’s point is a universal one and well made. Did you know that most published authors despair of their novels towards the end? Neil Gaiman phones his agent when he’s 3/4 of the way through each novel and begs her to let him off this one and say he can write a new story. Every time, she reminds him that he did the same for the last, brilliant novel. Then he takes a few days off and finishes the damn thing!
    What you feel is totally normal and has zero to do with the quality of your work.

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