Well, I'm battling towards my MPhil upgrade to PhD level. I'm confident my opening chapter on the novelist Edmund Yates (I'll tell you all about him soon, I promise) is decent enough but it's the abstract for the rest of the thesis that I'm struggling with. After all, I've been burned in the past by making assumptions about novelists I've barely read. I don't want to make a fool of myself so I'm trying to do as much reading as possible. The four authors I'm hoping to look at - James Payn, Charlotte Riddell, Charles Gibbon and Annie Thomas - have over forty books available on Archive.org alone. Most of these are three-volume whoppers; it's understandable why working through them is taking time. I've only managed two so far but I'm trying to keep up the pace. Failing at this stage is one of my worst fears.
What about the writing? I'm highly disappointed with myself to be honest. I've got two completed and redrafted manuscripts which I'm sitting on because...well, who knows why? Because I don't think they're good enough? They've each been submitted to competitions but I'm a little reticent about submitting them directly to agents. Maybe that's just fear striking again but something needs to happen. Aside from those I've got the beginnings of three other novels sat on my hard-drive and various short stories I'm trying to finish. Looking at my diary I find that I've got one short story and one short play out on submission - and I've had no success this year. Well, apart from the BBC long-listing but February feels so long ago now. I haven't written properly in weeks and I know the longer I leave it the worse I'll feel. But how do you combat your own sense of inadequacy when you're trying to keep your head above water in so many other areas?
My 'fun' reading is also suffering at the moment. I'm drowning so much in PhD reading that I'm not allowing myself the time I should to relax and read something I want to. I've got eighteen books on my TBR pile including some I'm desperate to read - Girl Reading by Katie Ward, The Somnambullist by Essie Fox, South Riding by Winifred Holtby to name but three. I need the release of being able to read for enjoyment in order to make the other stuff worthwhile.
There are some things I'm determined to keep up with. I'm Welfare Moderator for a new group 2020UK, writing articles about the state of our welfare system and debating ways for the country to progress. I'd definitely recommend you check out the site if you've got a minute. Along with that, I'm writing articles for Lesbilicious. As is this is my only source of income I certainly can't give that up. I'm dabbling in some old fan fiction, mainly to keep my writing muscles flexed while I ponder what the future holds for my original stuff.
What else is happening? The dog's going round the twist. She's hiding biscuits around the dining room (at least she thinks she's hiding them) and behaving very oddly when challenged. The builders have allegedly fixed the roof and the scaffolding should vanish soon, although the redecoration of my room to fix the damp patch is unlikely to happen...ever. Aside from occasional jaunts, my social life is barren and I'm desperate for intellectual conversation that doesn't happen via a computer screen. Oh, well, I suppose sometimes we want too much!
But this is how my life stands at the moment. I have to remind myself that I wanted this, I wanted the PhD. Giving up on my dreams now would plunge me into a deeper difficulty than even the great Wilkie Collins could conjure up. So...onwards?