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Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Yesterday I was given a date for my upgrade viva - 27th February. So that's the date this PhD charade comes crashing down around my ears, the day I learn that I'm perhaps not cut out for this academic career I had planned. Nevertheless, I have to give it a shot. The two things I need to accomplish in the next month, then, are to complete my upgrade chapter (currently in the fourth draft of the...third incarnation - possibly) and complete an abstract for the rest of the thesis. I also need to firm up my bibliography but, honestly, that's the least of my problems.

Getting this chapter up to required standard is proving difficult. I've been writing too much fiction lately so I'm having to be ultra-careful with my phrasing and the urge to slip into 'dialogue mode' is strong. I have to say, the pompousness associated with academic standards is really starting to get on my nerves. Alas, it's the way it is. My more pertinent problem stems from the abstract. Since changing my direction late last year, I've been struggling to play catch-up. Essentially, I'm reconfiguring the year and a half of work I've done to match my new focus. Unfortunately, much of the work I've done is no longer relevant. I've read books by authors I'm no longer covering; I've analysed others in a way that now seems to be useless. I'm going to have to read perhaps every novel Edmund Yates wrote to back up my abstract - and that's before I start finding Wilkie Collins novels to compare them with. See how unmanageable it's starting to look?

Then comes the upgrade viva itself. For a girl who has panic attacks walking into town to meet someone she knows well and has stress-related health issues, this is going to be painful. Literally, painful. While I've made progress in public-speaking and raised my confidence slightly, I still tend to suffer meltdowns at critical moments. I just stop talking. It'll be interesting to see how they deal with an oral examination where the candidate won't speak.

All this said, it's obvious something has to give. It has to be the writing, doesn't it? At least for the next month. I have to rewrite one more chapter for a submission somewhere (I'm not jinxing myself with explanation) but, apart from that, I think I have to focus constantly on PhD work. I already know that it'll drive me up the wall but I have to try. Don't I? Do I?

I need a little Judy to cheer me up. The girl she's singing about is the girl I long to be.

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