Officially it has been one year and one month since I started my PhD. Lots has been going on since I began and thankfully, the process of writing the proposal has been enormously helpful in crystallising and controlling the scope of the thesis.
The proposal itself is off to the research committee for the final time after a round of revisions. I’m not forging ahead into the literature review with an eye to knocking down draft chapters between now and this time next year.
My investigation has been clarified from a vague notion of the “influence of the Vatican on the politics of Latin America” to… *drum roll*…
Has Vatican Foreign Policy in the 21st century been shaped primarily by religious mission or the practice of state craft in Mexico?
This is a very satisfying development that means I actually have a chance at finishing the dang thing within the next two years and (hopefully) produce a book that will be useful to someone.
I am now starring at the coal face of the actual writing part and that is rather intimidating to say the least. But, I have a chapter structure and with it, deadlines.
I have also found an amazing resource that has inspired me to write, and given me a place to start. If you’re a Masters or PhD student, aspiring novelist, or wanting to practice the craft of writing, I cannot recommend this book enough:
I’ve read this, basically cover-to-cover and it is less focused on giving a specific formula for writing success, it is much more geared to providing helpful concepts and principles that the reader is free to mix, match, adapt and cannibalise as they need to find the best way for them to work. It also, very frankly, confronts those who are stuck with a habit that is not working, but haven’t got to changing it yet. Most of all, Bolker’s passion for writing is infectious and she provides lots of great examples and stories from her experience.
The role of this segment of the blog is to help me get accustomed the vulnerability that writing gives an author. Writing a thought down, somehow makes it real. Publishing that thought makes it even more so and deepens that vulnerability. Now other people can see you… And judge you!
As an apprentice academic, that is something that is actually an essential tool in building and refining your thoughts and writing and I will have to find confidence somehow. Maybe publishing (more) regularly here will help me get that in smaller doses before I get to draft reviews and thesis assessment.
If you’re a PhD student, or writer, please don’t hesitate to give me your wisdom and hard-earned lessons. I can always use more inspiration.