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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

An Update On Work/Life

The last time I mentioned my PhD on here was when I discussed my grandmother problems and how they're affecting my ability to study. Sad to say, things are still getting steadily worse in that department. Last week we recorded a very nice 36 calls and 23 messages in one day because she was confused - apparently, we're not too sure really. I escaped to the library for an hour but you have to get a security guard to let you into the toilets. For whatever reason, I can't bring myself to do that so the library's out as a place of refuge. Anyhow, my grandmother's in Blackpool for the week with my aunt so I'm taking the opportunity to get as much work done as I can before it all kicks off again.

So, yes, where am I at with my PhD? Well, I've now got a rough schedule for completion which is...well, scary as hell. Every month is full until next May when, hopefully, my thesis will be in roughly the right shape with all the right bits in and it might even look pretty, though I think that's pushing it a bit. The list of things I have to do is panic-inducing but the main thing for the next five months is to pull chapters three and four together (I'm on with three, haven't the foggiest about four). After that it's a case of revising, fine-tuning, introducing, concluding and going mad - if I can find the time for it.

Writing is allegedly having to take a back seat to all of this. It doesn't feel much like it from what I've been doing. Using that handy list I compiled a while ago about the novels I've been working on, I completed the fifth draft of 'Lily' a few months ago and am waiting for feedback on that. I was quite pleased with the development so I'm ready to be knocked flat on my backside and told I've made it worse. I've also thrown myself into a nuts-and-bolts revision of 'Danni', which is currently standing at around 50,000 words. The worst part of that is the fact that I'm planning ahead for the sixth draft if the fundamental plot changes work as well as I hope they will. No point throwing myself into the nitty-gritty of the novel until I know whether the structure's staying like this - this is attempt number two at changing the background fundamentally.

What else? Well, I started a structural revision of 'Lauren' but I got drawn back into other things after only a few thousand words. I've earmarked that for later in the year. However, I also did what I wasn't supposed to be doing this year and started a new novel ('Izzy'). After a burst of inspiration I'm well into this but I had to break off to do PhD-stuff and so the first draft is sitting there about a third finished, waiting for me to return to it. I'm seeing that as happening when I've finished the 'Danni' redraft.

Of course, what doesn't help is that I was struck with another novel idea last week. I've got the bare bones of it in my head and I want to write it at some point soon. Will it end up being my NaNoWriMo novel? Well, I kind of want to get the draft on paper before that. Which means, in theory, I could end up with three new novel drafts in a year I promised was going to be spent on novel revision. That would be amusing, wouldn't it?

Last week when I had a uni meeting I was asked whether there were any impediments to me finishing my PhD within the time I'd suggested. I said no. I think I lied, don't you? But I've tried to stop writing in the past and that doesn't work. What's a girl to do apart from forego sleep and get the hell on with it all?

At this point I think some wise words from Donald O'Connor are in order...

'It's the smile you smile that counts,
Happy thoughts in large amounts,
Any problem you can trounce,
You can bounce right back...'

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