Tag Archives: Scholarship

What I’ve learnt so far (a list)

The model is writing postcards

Image via Wikipedia

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m writing so much on my thesis that I have nothing left for my blog, but needless to say it’s been a while. I read somewhere that most new bloggers stop posting after about three months, and I was determined not to be one of those. So here’s my first post for the new year – a list. Part of why I write phd with kids is to create a small community of thesis writing parents who can support each other by sharing what works (and what doesn’t). The other part is harder to describe, but has something to do with connection, with me talking to you, and with the writing rest that blogging provides.

So here’s a list of what’s working for me (for a much more prosaic and beautiful list, check out Henry Miller’s work schedule from 1932-33). I spent much of my first six part-time months wandering in circles, learning Endnote and Scrivener, getting to know my faculty librarian, and working on publications. I now have a short story called ‘Dose’ in Polari Journal, a poem called ‘The Second Cup’ in a Melbourne Poets Union anthology titled “The Attitude of Cups”, and a critical essay coming up. But still I had the sense of having done very little. Except that when I started full-time (which for me is three child free days a week) on the first of January this year all that circling turned out was actually foundation building, and I was off. I’m not saying I’ll always be on such a productivity splurge, but right now the words are flowing, the reading makes sense, and I’m loving my life. Here’s my list (please feel free to add to it in the comments):

  • If I’m at my desk (and ready to go) at 9am then I have a good start to the day.
  • Writing for an hour without a break on each of my work mornings means I can spend the rest of the day reading, researching, editing, and rewriting. I got this idea from attending a seminar titled “The seven secrets of highly successful research students”. The chirpy self-help, you-can-do-it title meant I approached with extreme caution, but thanks to this particular technique I have nearly 12,000 words.
  • Working from home results in about thirty percent less productivity, and a gazillion more cups of tea.
  • Scrivener rocks. Seriously. If you don’t know what it is and you’re a writer (and even if you’re not), find out. The Thesis Whisperer will tell you why.
  • Getting to know my Faculty Librarian has been brilliant. Not only has she helped me work out which databases to search, how to set up alerts, and explained the mysteries of Endnote to me, but she’s a friendly face, and once she got twenty books off the shelves for me because I couldn’t get any child free time in the library.
  • Saying I’m going to work is the best way to describe what I’m doing. It means I only take a day off if I’m genuinely sick. It means I have a lunch break, but the rest of the time I stay at my desk. It also means that my loved ones and friends treat me like I’m working too.
  • Being paid to write and read and think is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me (after my kids).

Library shenanigans and a scholarship

English: iPhone

Sparrow will be one on Thursday. One like I’m happy to play by myself until I see you Mama and then you have no idea how terrible it’s been and you need to pick me up, you know, now. One like too busy to sleep in the day. One like climbing up and falling down, and climbing up and falling down, and climbing up and falling down. One like pointing and making pretend phone calls and shaking head no and saying bubbles and signing fish, dog, Mama, finish, food, shoe, again. One like whole body cuddles and a smile that gets in somewhere and warms me from the inside out. And Monkey is now well and truly three. Three like seventy percent of all communication is a boss or a whinge. Three like spiralling whys that, if they go for long enough (and they do), become kind of existential and self referential but simultaneously deeply exhausting (and deeply boring). Three like I-just-found-my-mama’s-buttons-and-I’m-gonna-press-em-all. Three like hippo kisses (a kiss without the smoochy sound at the end), pig kisses (lots of kisses planted in the same place very quickly), and “thanks for cooking babe” and waking up singing. Three like noticing everything, like showing me the world every day, brand new.

When I started my PhD six months ago, I ransacked the library and borrowed around twenty books. The idea was I’d read one every week or so, pull out relevant quotes, write responsively, and return them before they were due. So, so, wrong. They have remained unread. They’ve had three renewals. A couple of recalls forced me to get through some of them. Last week I had to beg a fourth renewal. Literally, beg. I used the small children card shamelessly and the librarian finally gave in. The thought of getting those books off the shelves again at the library was making my toes curl. Last night I finally pulled them all out with this plan: mark up what I need to read, then get in to uni to photocopy many, many pages, and finally return them. Problem is I can’t get to uni without Sparrow and Monkey before we go away. My solution today was to start scanning them using Scanner Pro on my iPhone and uploading them directly to Dropbox. I feel glad at the prospect of using less paper, and already fatigued at the thought of creating that many pdfs, a photo at a time. Lesson learnt? Please, Karina, don’t borrow more than five books at a time.

Last update is this: I got a full time scholarship. I was so excited when I found out that I shook for the next hour. Next year will look nothing like this one. I can’t wait.