The ironing pile (this one’s for kerensa). You know it’s a lethargic day when you’re even procrastinating from your primary method of procrastination.
As well as the ironing (and other tidying up) I also have essays to mark (and have more coming in mid-week, oh joy) and two job applications to be completing. I think I will do a bit of tidying up soon (as it is driving us both up the wall, and 90% of it is my stuff), and at least one of the job applications tonight. The essays I’ll try and do over the next 2 or 3 evenings. Sigh.
I have managed to get to the end of the weekend without achieving very much other than honing my procrastination skills! (and having a couple of naps). I am going to do some ironing in a minute, I know it’s still procrastinating but at least there will be something to show for it at the end!
I finally managed to send off the evil chapter to my supervisors. It is loads better than the previous attempts, but I’m still not really very happy with it. It occurred to me that I could usefully chop out the good bits and put them in other chapters, and have suggested this to my supervisors. They are very good at considering my brainwaves and then coming up with really obvious reasons why they’re bad ideas, but I’m really hoping that they agree with me on this. This is meant to be my final chapter before the conclusion, and I just think it’s a really weak way of ending the thesis. The chapter before this one is much much better, and I would feel much better arriving at my conclusion from that one! At the moment I just don’t feel at all confident about submitting a thesis with this particular chapter in it – I think I would be laying myself open to major corrections. There is good stuff there, but I just can’t get it to work in a format with which I’m satisfied or confident.
I’m taking a wee break from the chapter to try to write my talk for the conference which is coming up in a few weeks in Sweden. I had originally banked on pretty much writing it on the plane, but we have a discussant who needs to see the papers in advance, so that’s the current job. It’s a pain that conference papers always take longer than I think they will (so it’s probably just as well I’m not writing it on the plane!), but I think taking this time out to write something else might be a good thing in the end – if I am able to chop up and redistribute the Chapter of Doom then it will make some chapters quite a bit longer than others, but if this talk is any good then I can include some of the material in the good chapter which will even up the chapters and also means that I can incorporate more of my data in the thesis. One of the really frustrating things I’ve found about writing a thesis is that there just isn’t the space to include large parts of the collected data, and whilst plenty of things can wait till afterwards and I can try to write some shorter pieces based on the bits that didn’t make the thesis, still it will be gratifying to get more material into the thesis. That would also make me feel much more confident come the viva.
Mind you, actually getting off my fat backside and doing some more writing would also make me feel much more confident come the viva. And with that, time to do the ironing …..
I was going to start this post “I haven’t procrastinated for ages”, but, yes, well ….. What I mean is I haven’t written about procrastination for ages. And today I have essays to mark, so here I am.
Actually there’s not masses to write about. But I shall note that I had a very productive day at uni on Friday – I am currently working on combining a couple of chapters into a single chapter which makes considerably more sense as one big chapter rather than two smaller ones, and it didn’t end up being as difficult as I had feared it might. Now I have to add some quotes from my interviews, and expand on a couple of sections where I had run out of steam during the first draft, and that should be that – that’s tomorrow’s job (usually Fridays are my uni day, but this coming week I had to rearrange that due to commitments at work). Then I have to face my nemesis chapter – it’s an important one, but one where my first draft needs a major rewrite so I might well end up starting again. When I was originally writing it I was getting really frustrated with myself and thinking that what I was writing wasn’t very good, and feeling like I should have written another chapter before starting this one, and when they read it my supervisors agreed with that analysis! (they are very supportive, so the fact that even they said “substantial rewrite” reinforces that it does need quite a bit of work). I have allocated a month to do this (which in reality means 4-5 days, a day a week). Hopefully it will work out OK – I am finding that having a day a week in uni is proving a good way of getting things done, and maybe getting more done than if I had longer, as I have to be more focused.
I also need to book my travel and accommodation for the conference in Stockholm. I am a bit worried about this pesky volcano, but have checked out land and sea options, and they are all outrageously expensive, so I’m just going to have to risk booking a flight and then hope for the best.
It’s been a while since I blogged, some of you may have seen from facebook photos that HD and I went to Guernsey for Auntie Doris‘ and The Mister’s wedding. We got back yesterday (sadly leaving the blue skies behind us) and I am now spending far too long sorting out photos instead of marking essays. If you see me on the internet tomorrow you are allowed to poke me with a sharp stick as they’ve got to be done by then.
I’ll put wedding photos up in the next few days – probably towards the end of the week. In the meantime though, massive congratulations to the happy couple who looked radiant and happy and are obviously great together 😀
A few months ago, quite late in the day, I decided to add another mini-chapter to my thesis. Material (secondary data) which I’d originally intended to be background ended up being so interesting in its own right, and was influencing how I was analysing my interview and observation data, that my supervisors agreed with me that including it in its own chapter was a good idea. It is provisionally named chapter 2½ as I’d already got quite an extensive chapter plan and changing the numbers of the other chapters initially was going to be a bit of a pain, and I am probably going to sandwich it in between chapters 2 and 3. (I will remember to change the numbers at the end, but I’ll wait till I have a full draft first as then I will be going through the whole damn thing).
The thing is this. The material’s really interesting. I love writing. But for some reason at the moment it’s just not happening. I have written more in this blog entry than I have on the chapter today, though I have been doing a ton of thinking on it, for which I will be very grateful when I finally get down to putting pen to paper (or should that be finger to keyboard? Actually I’ll probably be doing both).
One good thing though. A friend of mine who already has her PhD included a similar-ish chapter in her thesis, which I have just read. She is someone I’ve always looked up to as really *up there* and slightly scary (as opposed to little me *down here* academically), and her work is really interesting. But reading the chapter, I felt like I just know I can write to at least that standard, that I’m not actually so far away after all. So that is a boost to my confidence anyway which is very welcome! (well, maybe it’s a boost to my ego, but whatever, I’m not complaining).
But I’ve still got to write the thing. There’s a very attractive-looking pile of ironing over there though …..
James just posted this on facebook, for me. Can’t think why (ahem).
Yesterday at work my attention was drawn to this Guardian article which resulted in a very interesting conversation about feminism and extremism. It certainly made me think, as it touches on a number of issues that have emerged during my own research.
My thoughts, in no particular order (apart from the first two):
* Can I just say that all men aren’t bastards? Thanks – needed to get that off my chest. The notion in the article that heterosexuality = a copout, a diminishing of the fight against domestic violence, is nonsense.
* A very striking thing for me was the argument that sexuality as a choice not as something you are born with could be liberating. Every day it seems I am reading people jumping up and down saying sexuality isn’t innate (or to be more precise homosexuality isn’t), that homosexuality is nothing more than a sinful choice. Also, I’m well aware that the “lifestyle choice” argument pushes lots of buttons and is something that is rejected by many (most?) LGBT people/communities/theorists. The argument here seems to be that the author feels she has chosen to be a lesbian as an empowering experience, rather than being a prisoner of her genes/chromosomes/biology/etc. I need to think more about this – I was reading recently about the taking of previously shameful epithets and concepts and reclaiming them as a positive identifier (in a book by a queer theorist about shame) and have a feeling that here is something I can’t quite put my finger on but is something important to do with the tensions emerging in my own research. On the one hand the author seems to be agreeing with the bigots that sexuality is a choice not innate, but on the other hand her celebration of this is turning the bigotry on its head. I wish there were fewer holes in her argument though.
* The comments below the article were also interesting (in parts). The “if everyone chose this we’d be wiped out in a generation” argument seems very unsophisticated (and also reflects the demographic arguments being used as a very very blunt instrument to bash gay people in eastern Europe) – I hadn’t really come across them in the west (or not that I’d particularly noticed anyway).
* Other comments reflected the general debate I had with my colleague yesterday, the notion that this type of argument sets back “sensible”, “moderate” feminism and (just like it’s the noisy loopy Christians who are the only ones who seem to get in the papers) this is the type of article “that gives feminism a bad name”. I think my colleague was surprised that I didn’t just dismiss the article, but hit on the “sexuality as choice” argument as something interesting and worth thinking about more. Feminism (and queer theory and praxis) is much more subtle, nuanced and often contested, there isn’t just a homogenous list of beliefs and practices and a tickbox form to complete and that’s it, you’re ‘in’ or ‘out’ (if you’ll excuse the pun, it wasn’t intentional!). Just as Christianity isn’t a list of boxes to tick either, but much more sophisticated and contested and ‘rich’ and complex, and it’s not the like of Christian Voice who have the monopoly on definitions of who is and isn’t a Christian. So I think if this is the only article that people read on feminism they will have a very distorted and one-sided view of what being a feminist (or a lesbian for that matter) means. But just because it appears to be on the more extreme end of things, doesn’t mean that it should be completely dismissed out of hand – at least not without further thought, debate, dialogue. I think that’s what I find so so frustrating in the reading I’m doing for my research – the essentialising, the ‘othering’ of the different, of those with whom the conservative authors don’t agree. I think it’s unfortunate that this article, which I could have found refreshing (and I’m really pleased it has given me useful things to think about), seems to be doing exactly the same thing. There are as many holes in this argument as in the arguments of the anti-brigade. I’m really sad about that. It’s so frustrating that important issues for debate so often get cloaked in bigotry and loopiness.
Hooray! It’s a wee bit too long, and I’m not entirely convinced that the individual sections, although all pretty good by themselves, entirely hang together, and I don’t like my concluding paragraph so will rewrite it tomorrow, and I have to chop out about 400 words, but I have had some good and very useful feedback from a colleague and hopefully will have supervisor feedback soon so I think I almost have something publishable! Now once I’ve done all that (tomorrow) they just have to accept it!
The last couple of thousand words took as long as the previous 5,000, and by the end I felt like I was doing the electronic equivalent of slurring my speech, but at least getting it down as a whole on paper means I have been able to chill this evening (as opposed to the last 3 evenings where I have chilled while a bag of work has sat in the hall making me feel guilty). The closest I got to actually doing any of the work I brought home was bringing the bag into the living room yesterday evening, where it sat at my feet looking at me while I read wiblogs.
Today I was telling one of my colleagues (who just started his PhD this year) how I still, after all this time, am convinced I’m just blagging my way through the whole thing and one day soon I’ll get found out. I’m just encouraged by the fact that the longer I’m in academia at this level, the more I meet loads of people who are doing amazing things in their research (including staff members) who feel exactly the same.
I knew there was a resolution I’d forgotten! But as I faced temptation today I remembered I’d better list it too!
* No non-work related internet during work hours.
I managed to procrastinate today by tidying up my bookshelves in the office and putting them into some kind of order (in my defence, it’s needed doing for ages!). But apart from a large pile of articles that need filing, I think that will be the end of that particular procrastinatory exercise, and then I’m going to have to get down to some work as I’ll have no more excuses. I can’t even mark any more essays, as no more late ones have come in (this is unheard of, and probably why it is snowing throughout much of the UK – though not here (yet), ironically).
This week I shall mostly be doing some reading and preparation for a study day we are hosting on Friday for one of the special interest groups of the Association of People Who Study My Sort of Thing – I am co-facilitating one of the sessions and am feeling woefully underprepared. With good reason, I really am woefully underprepared. I shall also be making a start on turning my paper from last month’s conference in Helsinki into an article as they are wanting to publish a selection of papers from the conference and I think it would do me good to get into the habit of writing for publication. I think that’s the main reason why I’m tidying the office though – I’ll be fine once I start, but it’s just the starting that’s so traumatic!