Written Words – (DPhil)

Was at the pub this week trying to convince them I needed to work less hours, and laughed, asking if I wasn’t working for school enough. I told them, I’m working plenty hard, I’m just not getting enough done.

It was a bit of a flip comment, and got a little laughter, but very reflective of the DPhil. As I’ve mentioned before, the work isn’t linear. I have weeks on end where I feel like I’m reading and writing, but not making any progress. Interspersed with those is the occasional week when I make a breakthroughs. It’s those breakthroughs that keep me going.

That’s why I was particularly excited about my supervisor meeting this week — I wanted to share with him some of my latest thoughts. One was an essay in which, for the first time, I felt like I was getting beyond summarizing other peoples’ work and establishing the core of my thoughts and my research. I’d also put together a new set of research questions; or more accurately, a new set of goals for the research that better reflected what I was looking for.

The supervisor hated both, which made for an absolutely dreadful meeting, and another lesson learned about the doctoral process:

Other people won’t always see the breakthroughs. They won’t realize the progress. The writing to me was important to me because it was new. But it was bad to him because it was sloppy. The ideas I found important, he did not. But part of it was that he wasn’t close enough to the work, close enough to the ideas, to understand their value. Not only does a DPhil place me into a world where my work doesn’t translate directly into results, it places me in a world in which there’s no guarantee anyone else can see the results even when I have them.

That certainly makes for frustrating meetings.

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