2012 has now rolled into view, and my diary is filling up with conferences, symposiums, meetings and more. I haven’t properly returned to work yet, but I’ve got a slight knot forming in my chest which means I sense deadlines and I must get cracking soon. For now though, I thought I’d take one last quick glance back at 2011. Sorry, I know I’m a bit late.
In 2011 I wrote something like 35,000 words towards my thesis. I passed my transfer of status, did a course on academic teaching, planned 1 conference, attended 3 and presented 3 papers. I published 1 feature article and several book reviews. I also kept up 4 regular freelance contracts with poetry organisations on top of my study, along with some other commitments in the arts. As the year came to an end I must admit I felt exhausted.
Much of what I learned last year, and what I talked about on this blog, was to do with how varied the process of thesis writing is. When I describe it to people who don’t know about research degrees, they assume I spend my time in calm contemplation in a library, or scribbling in a notebook under a tree in a park, or tapping thoughtfully on a laptop in a coffee shop.
In fact, most of the time I feel quite manic. I go to libraries, parks and coffee shops, but I also send and reply to countless emails, I blog, I tweet, I try to draw out ‘to do’ lists to see how I can fit in a conference paper and a book review on two different subjects and still have time for a social life. I feel out of my depth sometimes, and other times I feel like I would rather do nothing else.
I’d like to say my new year’s resolution is to write more, faster, better, hand in quicker and be some sort of graduate student super hero. I do believe in resolutions, but not necessarily for new year. In fact, sitting at the desk and doing something is a resolution in itself when the eventual deadline and achievement still seems so far away (not to mention the job market so bleak on the other side). So, my graduate student resolution is to just keep going.* As they keep saying, it is a marathon and not a sprint… (I will try to keep Olympic puns to a minimum in 2012).
*Ok, so my other resolutions are to eat more fruit and exercise more.