After six years, numerous life changes, and a complete about turn on my single status, I have achieved my PhD in creative writing. Amazing, fantastic, it feels like such a relief. The congratulations from colleagues, friends and family are lovely, and so comforting, but I have yet to feel any sense of achievement. It just feels like a relief. I think this is because despite everything, the book I produced is still not published and still needs work. This has led me to consider whether writing a book for a PhD is a pointless exercise.
Feeback from two sources – one a book editor/publisher, one an academic/writer – say the same thing. This is an excellent book for a PhD, but it’s unpublishable. This bizarre oxymoron – the excellent unpublishable novel – leads me to question what the point was of spending six years fine-tuning a piece of work in such detail. I could have written six misery memoirs in the time it took me to complete these 100,000 words alongside a 20,000 word critical commentary. At the same time, I also feel that the whole exercise, as empowering as it was, has taught me more about what not to write than what to write.
However….. I am not giving up on the book yet. I have some fantastic feedback to work with. And one of the examiners liked my descriptive writing – especially the stuff about food! The other said, ‘you certainly know how to tell a story.’ Heartening, but I am still waiting for the joy and excitement that is supposed to follow such a momentous achievement. I am assured it will.
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