The End of My PhD

A PhD lasts forever and then ends in a hurry. After spending the last few years working on my degree, I’m suddenly in the home stretch, and the marathon is speeding up, the pace rising to a sprint.

I’m due to finish my PhD in August. This means I have a lot of writing to do. I have to hand in a complete novel and accompanying critical essay in the next couple of months.

What’s strange is that this finishing point is largely my own choice. I could do another year: I have funding for a fifth year. However, various outside circumstances have made that impractical, and my novel is — I think — getting close to complete. So it’s time to wrap things up, move on.

I’m going to be applying for a range of jobs. I love teaching, and I’ll be applying for professorial / post doc positions. However, I don’t think my publication record is good enough, yet, to make me confident I can get a good creative writing position in a University. Maybe I’m wrong– we’ll see. Additionally, these last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to build up other skills: writing copy for scholars, accountants, and architects, editing journals and books, and planning events. I’ve directed writing festivals, published and designed great writers’ books — and I’ve had a lot of fun, and fair bit of success, writing this blog. There are a surprising number of jobs for people with advanced writing / curatorial skills, both in academia and large tech companies.

I’m aware for some PhD candidates, not getting a tenure-track position feels like failure, that the years spent in grad study were a waste. I know this is a complex issue, and different for everyone, but for myself, I simply don’t see it that way. I will be happy to join a department if it works out that way, but there are lots of fields that offer engaging work, the chance to mentor people, and to be involved in society’s wider concerns.

Maybe I’ll post links to some of the people discussing these issues — academia, work — but this post, today, is simply meant as an update, to you, my readers. And an apology. I’ve been absurdly busy these last two weeks: applying for a post-doc position, hurriedly drafting my novel so my dissertation director can read it… That’s why I haven’t blogged much lately.

Wish me luck finding a great job. And best wishes to everyone in a similar position!