In this series, blogger Lúcia keeps a record of her progress and experience in the months leading up to submission.
Oh boy, when it rains, it pours. April was a month with a lot of harvesting of hard work, while also being full of rainy days (both real and metaphorical). In April, I took sick leave because I was feeling intensely burnt out. By the beginning of the month I had written more of one of my biggest chapters, and sent it to my supervisors. I also was finishing on two books I had to later write review pieces on. I also happened to have a professional engagement speaking about a public-facing anthology I contributed to, at the London Book Fair. April was also a month of many heart-breaking failed job applications.
My longest chapter, in which I analyse interviews I conducted during 2020, is turning out to be a leviathan. I get lost when I dive in, and it shows in my writing. At points I get angry at my interviewees for not getting to the point. I sometimes use this anger to fuel my writing, but I sometimes take it as a sign that I need to take a step and distract myself a bit. The chapter came back with a lot of small linguistic corrections, my supervisor said it needed tightening up, whatever that means. And I completely agree, I think my brain needs tightening up, but at the same time I fear that if I tighten it up any further, it will burst.
I decided earlier in the year that my CV was not full and fat enough. So I pitched some reviews to publications thinking they would not give me the time of day. They did. They replied right away, sending me review copies. Which meant that now, on top of writing my giant thesis I also had to read two books and write reviews for them, all of this in a month when I was supposed to be on leave and go home to visit family.
At the beginning of April, I had the opportunity to speak at the Literary Translation Centre within the London Book Fair. It was an amazing experience, albeit slightly overwhelming. I was able to defend my niche topic and my expertise while also being careful to be engaging, fun and not to sound too academic, because this was not the audience for it. I constantly walk this thin line of being quite good at public speaking and giving off a more easy-going vibe with the demands that are asked of me as an academic. This juggling can mean that sometimes my public-facing extroverted persona bleeds into my academic work and I fear I am not taken seriously, or at least as much as I should. I am passionate about making academia less hierarchical, more fun, more passionate, and in my impact work I try to show others that we academics are not just theorising an ideal world in an ivory tower, we are trying to make these connections. Not all of us, but a great deal, at least, and myself included.
Then, it was time to go home for two weeks and leave the academic behind. Home, on this other continent, I am just a daughter, a friend, I am pre-2018 Lúcia, someone with fewer grey hairs and slightly better mental health. It did me good to step away from the thesis, which was making me angry at times, and see my research in a new light. I got to hug people I hadn’t been able to since 2019, I got to play and cuddle with my dad’s cat, to enjoy the sunlight I used to take for granted before. Goblin Lúcia was hidden back in Coventry, somewhere.
In talking about Goblins, it reminded of a tweet I’ve seen, by @drakegatsby:
Maybe that’s the goal: write the thesis in full Hobbit mode. But no unsolicited quests for adventures, please. And if the tree can be one like the one Isaac Newton rested under, I’d greatly appreciate it too. I’m in dire need of some apples (both real and metaphorical).
Are you on the road to submission? How are you finding things? Let us know in the comments below, by tweeting us @researchex or emailing us at email@example.com