‘Things I wish someone had told me during my PhD’ is a fantastic post from the always-interesting, thought-provoking, and fab feminist academic blog Hook & Eye. Although I’m in the home stretch of my PhD process now (even if it is a long and winding stretch), I’m making it my business to take as much of this advice as possible. It is never too late to prepare yourself for life on the other side of the doctorate!
It is important to keep working on the thesis even when I don’t feel as though I’m making much progress, and I kind of feel the same way about this blog. I’m trying to keep posting even though I struggle to find something meaningful to report. It’s an exercise in momentum.
The coding software detour was frustrating and not all that productive. and to be honest I’m not completely sure that I’ve figured it out even now. I coded an entire focus group with the new software and then realized that it didn’t actually do what I wanted it to do which was a lesson in reading the manual before starting to use the system. This is something I struggle with. I like to jump in and ‘learn on the job’ and sometimes there is a downside to that approach. I wanted software that would allow me to code at least three levels deep and to collate the coded sections in each category and allow me to see them all together/print them off. So, I was back to the old software, Weft, which I am anxious about because there is no technical support. I copied each thematic category from the first focus group and pasted it into a word doc. Now, I’m going through them and making comments using track changes. It’s pretty unsexy in the tech. department but I’m actually finding that it’s working for me in terms of identifying recurring discourses. I’m making notes in another word doc. My plan now is to keep layering on for each section and each focus group. I like the layering process and I think it’s interpretive and careful which is important to me. It is also really f***ing slow which scares me a bit but I’m hoping for momentum.
So, I guess things are looking up in that sense, or at least not completely at a standstill. I thought of the post title though because I have found myself, actually, looking up all day today. I was out and about with the girls for most of the day. We went to the splash park which was pretty scary. A zillion kids and parents (some v. organized parents), the car park was jammers. Anyway, planes would catch my eye every now and again. For some reason, I always wonder, when I see and airplane, where it is that it is heading, what are the people on the plane thinking and feeling about where they are going. Later in the car, when we were driving home, I saw a couple more in the sky and it kind of made me vaguely nostalgic. I mean, I still travel fairly frequently, but I used to travel a lot, and I have spent a lot of time in airports and on planes. I hate flying but I like airports, especially the waiting at the gate part. Which is kind of weird when you factor in that I’m waiting to do something that I don’t like to do. I should add that I am talking about being in airports sans kids. Solo preferably, with a good book or magazine. It wasn’t just the planes today, I was looking at the beauty of the sky, the trees (it baffles me how Calgary goes from a bunch of dry brown sticks out of the snow to lush greenery in what seems like a couple of days). In all of this the thought crossed my mind: this must stop…all this looking up and out. I must look down, down into my transcripts, into the abyss of the thesis. I must turn away from the world for a time to get this done. So hard to do.