It’s been a long time since I had a chance to update this blog. The second year has whirlpooled me (and everyone else, I suspect) into a new loop of work. (Why isn’t there a better English word for виток?…)
This year is better than the first one – more focused and far clearer as far as the dissertation is concerned. To put it somewhat half-jokingly, now I have some concept of what I’m doing! At the same time, the pressure is up, since this is the midpoint of my expected research timeframe. Candidates in the United Kingdom have only 3 intense years to finish their dissertations – very different from the American system, from what I hear. A fourth year is often possible to arrange as a “write-up” year, but for those of us on standard three-year scholarships, it’s not quite an option. So, though I’ve never been the one to avoid intensity in any way, stress management had to become a mandatory part of life.
Time management, too. One challenge is navigating the endless lectures, seminars and workshops around the university without getting sucked into a perpetual listener mode. Another challenge is something I’m going to call PRA (Primary Reading Avoidance). In one’s mind, its symptoms sound like this: “I’ll just read this one more article, so I can grasp this one more aspect of my field, and then I’ll get right back to the actual texts I’m analysing” – needless to say, another ‘one more article’ emerges from the footnotes of the previous one. Stopping is more difficult than it sounds, because something important might be just around the corner, and maybe this ‘something’ can make or break your entire argument. That’s how it feels. It’s as if you’re gathering mushrooms, and the last / biggest one is always behind the next tree. At some point you need to stop gathering and start cooking, but for inquisitive minds it is a serious effort to make. No one talks about it, but I suspect that PRA is among the main unspoken PhD ailments. This step from secondary to primary material is one I still haven’t made fully.
But the midpoint is here.
The awareness is settling in: it’s time to finish starting.
It’s time to start finishing.