My poor neglected blog! Apologies (to my one remaining reader) for radio silence, it’s not that nothing’s been happening, just that work etc has been busy busy busy so nothing interesting is happening 🙂
Work is going well, I’m really enjoying it, but it is very full on (which is good) and I’ve had to do a fair few evening interviews recently. What is good is that I am building enough time in lieu to be able to leave an hour early a few times a week and go to the gym; this and the diet is (generally) going well and I only have another few pounds to go and I’ll have lost a stone from when I was at my heaviest earlier this year. So that’s good.
My two OU courses have started up again, so that’s all extra work, and they have asked me to consider taking on another one, just for one year while the regular tutor has a sabbatical, starting in February 2013. Good points would be: level 3 and public health course would look great on my CV, even if it is only a year; the money would be welcome of course; the course is interesting; and because it runs from Feb-Oct and my other courses are Oct-June it means that I would still have a bit of extra money coming in over the summer (I know I have my job so it’s not like I’m not paid at all for those three months, but I do notice each summer when I don’t get paid for the OU work). Less good points would be: I’m working full-time and doing two OU courses on top of that, and there would be 5 months where this one would overlap with those; I’m knackered and would like to have a bit of a life despite loving what I’m doing. I’m not sure which way I’ll choose yet – but anyway it was nice to be asked, it was a little bit of affirmation which never goes amiss.
I now have the week off work, but will mainly be trying to write an article (I have signed up to #acwrimo or academic writing month on twitter, to try and get myself into gear for getting myself published; this is really important to me both professionally and personally). So I’ll probably be going back to work for a break! But anyway it *is* nice to not have to get up at 6am and deal with Scotrail for a few days, and I will make sure I go out for a good brisk walk each day, weather permitting.
… that my last post contained a 123-word sentence, replete with brackets and sub-clauses. I am a little concerned that if this becomes common knowledge my supervisors will stumble upon this blog and realise it’s me, as this will be a dead giveaway.
Yesterday I got the final proofs of the book chapter that’s nearly ready for publication, with editors’ comments. I think almost all of the substantive comments were along the lines of “please make this into 2 sentences” as an entire paragraph was highlighted.
So I’m verbose. So was Dickens, and it didn’t do him any harm now did it? 😉
[ETA to Kerensa: and no I wasn’t German in a past life]
[By the way, this blog entry is really very boring, I won’t be at all offended if nobody reads or comments! But it’s good for me to have a wee record of where I’m at!]
I’m just having a break from trying to write a long abstract for the book chapter for the volume coming out of the recent conference in Sweden. I think the reason I prefer writing journal articles (she says, having had none published yet, but bear with me here!) is that I can set the agenda and decide what it’s about, whereas in an edited volume there’s an overarching framework decided by the editors and then the individual authors fit into that the best they can. Which is fine in most cases, but not always. Last year I thought about submitting an article to a special edition of a journal (which in effect is like an edited volume with a particular focus decided by the editors), even going to the point of getting various people to read it and comment on it before I submitted it for peer review. However I eventually decided to give up without submitting it to the journal as I had to do so many discursive contortions to try and shoehorn in the relevant focus and theory that it just stopped working and felt like it stopped being about my research. It wasn’t wasted time as I will rework it without all the shoehorned-in bits for something in the future when life starts calming down (ha!), but it was an interesting lesson in this whole writing-publishing thing.
Now I’m in a similar position again, not as extreme as there is a bit more flexibility in this case and they aren’t insisting on a particular theoretical focus, but it’s still the case that what I’d really really like to do with this paper isn’t exactly what would work in this particular book. So I’ve ended up drafting two separate papers from the same conference talk, one to fit the focus of the book and one closer to what I’d really like to do to write another time. It’s a bit sad that at this stage in my (embryonic) research career I have to jump through the hoops that are offered rather than pick and choose what projects to work on, but I know that if I do that now and get a publishing record then it makes the whole writing-what-I’d-like-to-really thing much easier in the future. It’s just getting a bit confusing that the what-I-want-to-do-really with this paper (based on the comments of our panel’s respondent) is what I’m going to have to do in my thesis as well, but the what-I’m-less-enthusiastic-about-but-will-be-good-for-my-career thing has to be in by tomorrow so I’m having to try and put aside the looming thesis deadline and thinking for the even-closer deadline of the book. It’s unfortunate, it would have been so much better if they’d issued the call for papers a month later so my deadlines didn’t clash, but unfortunately the world doesn’t revolve round me (honestly, the cheek of it!) so here I am.
Anyway that’s a really rambly and dull way of writing anything else but what I’m meant to be writing! 🙂 Back to it now I guess ….
Over the past few months I’ve blogged occasionally about a paper I was writing which I hoped was going to be included in an anthology based on the conference I spoke at in Finland last December. So it got through the initial vetting and got sent out to peer review in February or March, then in June I got the peer reviewers’ comments and I sent the revised manuscript back at the end of August.
Yesterday I got an email from the editors of the anthology. This email told me that they had got most of the papers back, were working on the anthology introduction, outlining the proposed structure of the anthology, and were about to start touting the anthology round a couple of publishers (if these publishers don’t accept them then they’ll use their own university press, but they’re aiming higher to start with, you never know).
But here’s the thing. Nowhere in the email does it say that they’ve accepted the changes I made to the manuscript, or that mine is one of the papers that is going to be included. I’m kind of thinking that if they weren’t going to include it then they wouldn’t have bothered sending me the email about their next steps, and they did include some encouraging editors’ comments with the peer reviewers’ comments back in June about how my paper fitted in so well with the overall theme of the book. I’d just really like to see in black and white that they definitely will be including it. But I feel too embarrassed to ask them, in case either a. they decided not to include it after all or (more likely) b. it’s a really stupid question as it’s actually really obvious. I think instead I will run it past my supervisor (who also submitted a chapter for the same book and went through the same process I did, but who also knows the editors quite well, and who is also more than used to my daft questions and insecurities).
I just want to get excited about getting something published, but I don’t want to get excited until I’m absolutely sure, as otherwise I shall feel a bit silly.
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 …..
A group of us in my department, at a similar stage of our PhDs (so, all writing-up, post-fieldwork, in-the-middle-of-panicking) have decided to start up a writing group. We met today to decide what to do – it will involve producing 2 or 3 pages for each meeting (to be taken away and read by the others, and receiving feedback at the next meeting), and also having a defined topic on the day that we write for 10-15 minutes on there and then. The idea is to get us into a bit more of a writing groove, and also get some feedback from people other than our supervisors to get another take on what we’re doing. We’re also hoping that it will give a bit of clarity and focus to what we’re writing, as sometimes you can be so caught up in the panic that you forget what exactly it is you’re doing! We’re going to meet properly for the first time next week, bringing something that we’ve been writing (as an example, it could be a section of a thesis chapter, or a bit of an article or conference paper, or a reflection on why we don’t know what we’re doing, or thoughts about an issue that we haven’t quite got our heads round, or something like that), and we’ve decided that for our 10 minute writing task we are going to write a summary of what our theses are about. This is the bit that, for me, I think is going to be most useful. I have been so caught up in job applications and whathaveyou that my thesis feels totally neglected, to the point that I panic that I can’t remember what it’s about.
Talking of jobs, I didn’t get shortlisted for the job at my university, which to be honest was a bit of a surprise. Not that I think I’m God’s Gift, but I did feel I met all the criteria and some. I guess I didn’t. I did though have an email from a friend who got her PhD a couple of years ago, and has just started her first lecturing job after a series of random jobs here and there and about a million applications for various teaching posts. She was quite blunt, but that’s what I needed – she said that the chances are the people who have been shortlisted have already got their PhDs, and that I am entitled to ask for feedback as to why I wasn’t shortlisted. Which I think I will do, as maybe it will help with future applications. In the meantime though I have found a 6 month research assistant post here which looks like a lot of fun, something I’d enjoy doing if we haven’t got anything else in the pipeline, and HD hopefully has an interview down south soon (he needs to hear again from the agency, who I must say are being a bit unimpressive). I’m trying really hard not to get anxious (as is my wont) but it’s not very easy.
On that note, I appear to have run out of clothes, so had better do some ironing. I have been putting it off for weeks (hence the lack of wearable clothes), which is silly as ironing is the one household chore that I do actually like.
Supervision went OK. Lots of comments about the chapter of doom, but largely cosmetic and bits which need more fleshing out, and basically considerably less work than the previous chapter needs. So that’s good. I want to spend the next week or so planning the changes, plus writing a conference paper (the bulk of which is already done, phew) and planning a journal article which can be relevant to nursing as well as the thesis, as I need in the next couple of months to get myself back on the nursing register in order that I am able to apply for jobs (I want to apply for some distance-tutoring work, but the closing date for that is in May even for the course which doesn’t start until February next year!).
And in family news, we are going to be an aunt again 🙂 (another one on HD’s side – my sister assures me that the niecelet is the one-and-only time she’s ever going through that!).
I *finally* got the remains of chapter 4 sent to the supervisors today. As I have supervision in a couple of days I’ll probably have to massively rewrite it, but for now I’m glad it’s out of the way.
I’m finding it a bit frustrating that I’ve got so so so much data that I either have to miss large chunks of it out altogether, or write about lots of things in not that much detail. Hopefully the supervisors will help me see what’s good to keep and what to miss out. I guess that’s what journal articles are for, for all the data you can’t include in your thesis.
The chapter of doom is *this* close to being written – I thought I was going to have it done (eventually) yesterday but by 6pm I was starting to write gibberish (quiet at the back please!) and, with only one more short section still to go, I sent it off to the supervisors and will try and do the final bit tomorrow. Actually for all my moaning I do think it’s better than the previous chapter I wrote, and although because it’s a first draft I’m sure it will need a substantial rewrite, at least I will be rewriting it from a vaguely OK starting point.
Yesterday evening I was at a pub quiz in town in aid of Greenpeace, with HD and four other friends from church. It was really fun, we used the rather inspired (I thought) team name of “Incense and Insensibility” which as one of our friends pointed out sounded like an episode of Blackadder. It brought us luck though – we ended up equal 1st, only losing on the final tiebreak question, but still getting a bag of fairtrade goodies for our efforts 🙂
Yesterday as well during the day I heard from the Moomins (I think I shall use this as shorthand for the people from Finland who organised the conference I spoke at in Helsinki the other month). The article I wrote based on my talk has now gone to external review, and the Moomins hope to be able to say by the end of May whether it has been accepted for publication or not. So although it’s not yet an acceptance, it’s a step in the right direction and not a rejection and I’m really happy about that. And once I finish the final bit of the chapter of doom this weekend I can make a start on the article I put off the other week AND a conference talk for May (this is in Glasgow so not an exotic one, in fact it’s basically in my department, though with outside speakers too, but it will be an elaboration of a section I wrote yesterday in the chapter which is too interesting to leave out but too long to go in its entirety in the chapter when there are so many other things to include as well, so I shall enjoy doing that). I know I’ve whinged a bit recently, but despite all that I do really enjoy writing – at any rate, I enjoy it once I’m in my stride and I know that what I’m writing is half-decent.
This afternoon I met some friends from my dept (well, they have all finished now, but are all still around), one of them has just got her first post-postdoc teaching post so will be leaving Glasgow in a couple of months. I’m really chuffed for her, and was taking lots of mental notes to think about for future applications I might make myself. I do feel a bit in limbo at the moment as until we know where HD gets a job it’s difficult for me to apply anywhere, but I am going to have to start thinking about this and getting serious about it soon. If any of you GodSquadders want to pray for him to get a good job, that would be good 🙂 He’s had a couple of interviews recently, but we’ve not yet heard from them.
I’m going to be totally gummy by the time this chapter’s over if it doesn’t stop being painful soon. I’m getting there, slowly, but I don’t remember previous chapters being quite this much of an effort. I’ve been getting up at stupid o’clock (before 6!) the last couple of mornings (much to HD’s joy as I’m sure you can imagine) and getting quite a lot done in the mornings which is really good. Unfortunately this means that I am exhausted and not fit for anything by about 8pm, so my plans for doing a couple of hours in the evening as well are coming to, well not quite nought but not as much as I’d like.
Hmmm. Not the world’s most riveting blog entry, but seeing as my original purpose for starting it was to document my student life, I want to remember all the painful bits and boring bits as well as the highs.
Talking of painful and boring, I now have 12 hours of tutorials to go! 🙂