Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The PhD Cupboard

Many years ago I closed the door on my never-completed doctoral research. Literally.

My PhD had been ABD for a while, and then it was just BAD.

I put all the material evidence for my five years of hard work in a far flung wardrobe in my house, at the very corner of the small study I never use any more except for storage, and I shut that door tight.

I honestly can't recall when I last looked in that corner. It must have been so long ago that I had even forgotten the failed PhD was sitting in there, freshly coiled and waiting to spring like a Jack in the Box, when I lifted the lid today, innocently thinking, hmm I wonder what's in here?

I'm gradually emptying out this house you see, ahead of selling it. It's a big job for a hoarder, who comes from a long line of hoarders.

So there, neatly stacked and almost hopefully so, it seemed today, are the file boxes and the ring binders, labelled and tidy and so irrelevant to me now, surely I should just… ??

Chuck the lot? Nooooooooooooooooo…..

I still have hopes that some day I will turn it all into a novel.

Like all of those of us who have not actually ever written a novel, I do sometimes entertain the thought that this or that raw wound or healed scar might contain the makings of a good novel.

But I understand from good authority that it is not as easy at it looks to turn your failures into fictions.

It's not even that easy to hide the bodies.


Vanda Symon said...

Shutting the door on five years work! Never throw things out, I say, you never know when you might need them. (That's why my house looks like it does) And never say never on the novel.

And as for the hoarding, you've heard of the old she who dies with the most stuff wins?!

Mary McCallum said...

why not do the PHD at the Institute of Modern Leters - write that novel - study that literature thing - kill two birds [as they say] with one stone....

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Food for thought from two people who know what they're talking about!

Thanks guys :-)

Mary McCallum said...

i'm not with you on the hoarding thing, though, Vanda - i am a natural hoarder [never know when you might need it etc] but i have had to fight that impulse because i found i write better when uncluttered - i am freed up from stuff, from my worst excesses etc and that space is my 'room' to write - having said that 'stuff written down' i do hoard in big plastic boxes with lids just in case
btw PC - you can do the IIML PHD at a distance.... a well-known south island writer has just joined up for it...