Sabbatical Stories: Half term report (or, “Good grief, I’m halfway through”)

I have done 508 steps today.  Most of which have come from shuffling from my office to the guinea pig room (yes, you read that right) every half an hour to check on our poorly pig. Bree (the poorly pig in question) is not impressed by my continual presence. Nor is she happy at my habit of staring at her as though she will suddenly break out in keen voice and declare that yes, she is feeling better, and no, she doesn’t want any more parsley.

Perhaps the distraction of giving a guinea pig 6 (!) rounds of eye drops a day is the cause of my PhD slump today. I started to type just before 9am. It is now 4pm and I have written 599 words.  The note in my diary saying “BIG PUSH!! Time to finish Chapter 1 this week!!” is trolling me. Go away, past euphoric Elaine with your smiley faces and your determination. I’m having a grump. I can’t write for toffee. And I’ve eaten all the biscuits again.

Time to take stock.

I have been on sabbatical for just over 6 weeks. I have 8 weeks to go. Let’s see where we’re at.

You may recall that I set out my PhD stats in a nifty table back in early September. Well, here’s a fully updated version for your delectation and delight:

Thesis data 6.11.18

Back in September, I had 34,109 ‘firm words’ i.e. words that were properly formatted and had been sent to my supervisors for comment. The word count for my ethics chapter was actually at 6k but the manuscript mainly consisted of scribblings and notes and rushed attempts to get some references down before I forgot the citation. I put 3k in brackets as I felt that accurately reflected the true quantity of fully formed text. So, all in all, round about 37,000 words in total.

Despite today’s disastrous attempt at writing, I have been busy.

My plan was to complete Chapter 5 by the end of September. I thought it would be around 6-7k in total (*laughs madly*). I completed it. It’s nearly 11k. Anyway, I like it very much. There’s a section about self-care in autoethnography that’s become my favorite bit of writing whilst on sabbatical. I digress.

I wanted to write Chapter 6 (discussion – although I am desperate for a better title than this! If you’ve got ideas, please shout) during October. I finished it a week early and had a few days off. I fed some deer. I drove around Northumberland. I picked my husband up from the Metro when it was raining. I ate too much cake. Self-care is good. Oh, and I wrote a good chunk of the ‘concluding comments’ chapter (new Chapter 7) that I did not know needed to exist back in September. Supervisors are wonderful and have all the best ideas when you have words you don’t know what to do with…

Now we’re into November. I’m heading to Melbourne in a few weeks and I need to write my paper. I’ve held off because I wanted to get most of Chapter 1 done as I think this will really help me work on synthesising my entire thesis into a 10/15 minute slot. I have so much to say and I’m worried I won’t be able to communicate all the intricacies of autoethnographic practice and how it relates to our understanding of life as law clinic supervisors. But I’ll worry about that another day.

I’ve agreed to co-write an article and I said I would make a start in November so that’s on my list for next week. I’ve also agreed to write a book chapter. So, jobs to do.

The plan for December remains as it was back when I started the sabbatical: use the time to bring everything together. I really need to work through some of the feedback on my chapters and make sure I’ve explained everything properly. I know there are sentences with little notes like ‘look this up at the end’ next to them. Well, we’re nearly at the end. Time to get down into the detail. And you might have noticed I’m about 4,000 words over the 60k word limit. Hmmmm.

What’s that, Bree? It’s eyedrop time? Excellent.

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One thought

  1. Great to hear about your daily travels, challenges and triumphs… it’s great to hear of others paths to completion. I hale from Melbourne, Australia and am heading towards the conclusion of my doctoral thesis. I am currently in New York presenting at the upcoming Transformative Learning Conference at Columbia Teachers College. Tell me which conference you’re presenting at in Melbourne?

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