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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

PhD Problems

I don't know if this is all in my head but writing the final chapter of my thesis (before going back to rewrite the rest, obviously) is proving to be more difficult than the other three put together. It could be that I'm on a vicious merry-go-round of work at the moment, drifting from thesis writing to essay rewriting to necessary secondary reading to NaNoWriMo writing (which, yes, I know is a choice but it isn't really because I'm as serious about writing as I am about my PhD so...). Whatever's happening, it's true that the structure of this chapter continues to stink and every time I try to fix it another problem crops up.

I suppose that, on a practical level, it's understandable this chapter is giving me trouble. Previous chapters have discussed a limited number of characters - four is my maximum so far and that was more like 'two sets of two'. In this chapter, I'm examining seven. It was eight until yesterday when I blindly crossed one out in a rage (although I think that was the right decision, rage or not). I do have arguments around groups of them but the organisation of the analysis is proving to be rather difficult. Necessarily, I have more contemporary context to include and this is also hampering my progress. What to put where? What to leave out? When to leave the building screaming?

I watched a One Foot in the Grave episode the other day called 'Rearranging the Dust'. Victor and Margaret are waiting to make a will in one of the grimiest waiting rooms known to man (there is bird poo on the inside of the window for a start). It prompts Victor to start thinking not only about dust itself but how similar to humanity dust is when it all comes down to it. I get the feeling that that's what I'm doing with this chapter - rearranging the dust of it and hoping it'll all settle in an appropriate place. Only, I've been trying this for a while now and it hasn't settled. It's actually swirling around me constantly, getting up my nose and giving me wild ideas about hitting the delete button. I have to be very careful with that urge.

I'm hoping that this time I've cracked it and the chapter will finally work but I won't hold my breath. Nor will I think about my personal schedule that's drifting somewhere on the sea of dust, the one that tells me I should be rewriting chapter one right now, not still buggering about with chapter four. Perhaps the key to arguing with all this dust is try and think about it as little as you can.

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