For the past year, we have been following blogger Lucia on her road to submission. We’ve been through spells of positivity, difficult times, conference panels, and even a trip back home. Now, it is the time to submit.
If you’d like to read her journey so far, you can read posts from January, February, March, April and May here.
By Lucia Collischonn
Here we are, where we knew we would come to, eventually. Since last time you have heard from me, reader, I have battled Covid, a heatwave, countless job interviews and a lot of waiting. Each person’s writing process is different, as well as the reviewing/editing process and their relationship with their supervisor. In my case, my thesis got caught up in the record-breaking British Summer of ’22.
I’ll explain. This last push of the PhD was a struggle. A long process that taught me many things, among these that I can and have to be more flexible. After many long hours sat at the library, typing furiously on my computer and editing like there is no tomorrow, I happened to have my house all to myself for a week, with all my housemates somewhere else. I decided to take advantage of the situation. I went head-on into a writing cave. That week I was alone writing writing writing also happened to be the week leading into the infamous heat wave of 2022 in the UK (mid-July, remember those horrible two days when the hours would not pass? that one). I followed a monastic routine. I stopped going to the gym, I didn’t have any social time, I don’t think I have seen a human that I knew for days and days on end (reminds me of lockdown times).
One day, still on the leading up to the temperature heights, I decided enough was enough, and took an innocent bus to go swimming. Came back, back to the cave. Three days later, I started to feel my throat ache. Can you guess what comes next? Yes, the dreaded covid, companion of so many of us, either IRL or in our collective minds for the last 2 years. I tested positive and had to self-isolate. Good that no one else was at home so I didn’t risk infecting others. Then, the fever started. My fever arrived on the same day as the height of the heat wave, and my very optimistic deadline of sending a last draft of my thesis to my supervisors was getting further and further away. And yet, ladies and gentlemen, off it went, into the supervising eyes of others. I remember writing to my supervisors that if my thesis read like a fever dream it was, well, because it was.
That same day when I sent it off to my supervisors and was having a high fever was when the temperature got to around 40 degrees celsius. Guess what? On that same day I had a very important online roundtable I was a part of, to an audience of almost 300 people, live on Zoom and YouTube. Again, I don’t remember what I said. At all. Fever dream doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I couldn’t even enjoy my freedom having sent off a big, respectable version of my thesis, because I was too busy being sick. My supervisors promised to send me back the thesis with comments in about a month.
One thing I’ve learned about the summers in academia is that this time is when you cannot really rely on deadlines, on people responding to your e-mails, and out-of-office automatic replies flood your inbox. My supervisors both had a lot going on in their lives, so I expected the thesis reading time to be stretched much further. And, while I waited, I started a job I should have done throughout these four years: polishing my references.
Now kids, listen to Aunt Lucia, KEEP A VERY GOOD RECORD OF ALL YOUR REFERENCES AND USE A REFERENCE MANAGER (at least a spreadsheet, please, it’s all I ask). I am so angry at Past Lúcia for not doing her job properly and making Present Lúcia suffer through mind boggling hours of checking and adding references. And I thought I was smart.
To make things all better, in the meantime I had to do something that we all fear, the soul-draining activity that is almost a full-time job: job hunting. My scholarship was reaching its end, the bills don’t stop coming, and your girl gotta eat. So, baby thesis was being cared for by its godparents (?), and I had to focus on other parts of my life crumbling around me.
Well, this story has a happy ending. Reader, I got the job. I started it in mid-September part-time, for two weeks, while I went over the edits and comments from my supervisors. I sent baby thesis off to the supervisors again, they wanted to have a last look over and readthrough. And they took a little bit longer than anticipated. Mostly because my fever dream writing had caused me to write some odd sentences that stopped in the middle and didn’t go anywhere, so I had to work extra hard to make them into something legible. And the time passed. Little by little, it passed. Suddenly my very perfect timeline of submitting the thesis in late August was escaping my grasp. It’s like life keeps moving the goalposts. I kept following though, and I am happy to say I am about to submit. About to. As you read these lines, dear reader, baby Thesis will have been sent out into the world, ready for scrutiny.
I have been a part of the library blogs community for the last 2 and a half years, first as an editor, then as a blogger. I hope whoever is reading this knows how much love and creative juices are poured into this website and how this is a part of a community that is always here for us, with open arms. The library postgraduate community team made me feel less alone on this lonely road.
If this all read to you like the feverish ramblings of a near-lunatic, it is because it was.
One more for the road.
Have you kept up with Lucia’s musings on her thesis path? What did you think? Has it helped you on your thesis journey? Let us know by leaving us a comment below, by tweeting us @researchex or by messaging us on Instagram @warwicklibrary or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover image: Emily Alger.