Notes from the Wasteland No. 5 ‘I am a Doctor of Philosophy.’

I am a Doctor of Philosophy.

With letters before and after my name. And if you look carefully in the dustier parts of the internet you’ll find my doctorate published by an international university press.

It was a massive effort to complete. I lost (almost) everything in the process. My relationship. Friends. Possessions. Addresses.

My mental health suffered. There were times when I couldn’t imagine carrying on with it. It was all too much all of the time. Unrelenting in its need to be attended to. Like some curious tumour that demanded everything I had and much more.

Much more.

One more idea. Just one more. Another word. Another sentence.

One more.

More words. Another chapter. And another.

And. And. And.

More. Just more.

But I endured. Battled. Wrestled. Fought. Endured.

And completed. Because completing is everything. There is nothing else. The whole thing is just too much to not succeed. There is nothing else other than completion. I saw too many other people around me stretch out their lives by extending their registration. Going from full-time to part-time. Three years to five, seven, eleven, forever. Just adding more time to their lives. More. Endless. And then discover that there is no end. No completion. Planets have stopped rotating on their axes for less.

The process was like digging a hole as deep as you can possibly dig, toiling each day to shift tiny amounts of soil, pushing them to one side, tamping them down, making sure that too much soil doesn’t fall back into the hole. But the digging was everything. Everything.

Picture the hole I dug over three years. It was roughly ninety-six thousands words deep, not counting footnotes. But the hole’s dimensions can be measured in many ways. Not just word count.

Hours, obviously. The time it took to type each word, each sentence, each and every paragraph. To edit and rearrange, delete and rewrite.

I wrote in a tiny cubby hole overlooking a vast reading room in the university library. Perched high above the room like a furrowed gargoyle. Watching people come and go as I remained. Returning each day to dig a bit deeper. To change a word. Delete a sentence. Correct a spelling, for the millionth time.

I am proud of the effort. It took everything I had but I’m proud of myself. More importantly, the effort rewarded me with a career where my doctorate has been valuable.

But I can’t stop thinking about the hole I dug.

You can’t dig a hole that deep and not wonder how else you might measure its depth.

That’s what I’m doing right now.

5 thoughts on “Notes from the Wasteland No. 5 ‘I am a Doctor of Philosophy.’

  1. It took me 8 years to complete my second novel.
    The time just not right or I am the one who is not in the right place, or it was not at the right time, or life just not in the right sense, or people is not right in your life or life is not right at that moment you did your writings … it was terrible and yet, worth my time to complete it at last. And I don’t care what others might think of it. I know I did my best and I did something that worth my own because it is my choice, my life, my successes & failures are mine – not them.

    You did it!
    Should I perhaps now congratulate on it?
    Yes, I do.


    1. Congratulations to you too; we can only do our best and that it is everything. I’m at the very start of a journey right now and I really appreciate you reading my posts. We can only do what is right for us and our time is our time. Good luck with your writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am now in my mid-40’s and there was a joke that life starts going hill, they said.
        But to me, it is the best time for me as I am getting older and perhaps wiser in my own ways.
        If I were to be in my 20’s I may have that MUCH TIME for almost everything, but the differences is that now I am mature and had much or enough experience to juggle good contents for whatever it is or was that I wrote.

        Be it good or bad, be it right or wrong, it is my choice and I accepted that there is no such thing as PERFECT. And I am terrible at that when it comes to writing. When English is like 4th language for me it is quite a struggle trying to write good.

        I can be so picky with what I wrote that I can deleted the whole chapter if I am unhappy with it. But then, I think I do believe that it is worth my hard work in it. I don’t mind critics anymore and I don’t mind if people read my stuffs or not.

        What matters are I did it, I worked on it, I have made my dream comes true and that I have DONE IT ALL.

        You go, Barnaby!
        Go forward with your dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You too, and thanks for your thoughts. I agree about being more mature and using that maturity to push yourself forward. I am thrilled to hear about liberating the experience seems to be for you; I feel that way too about my achievements. I also know, like you, that there is much more to come. Bring it on!


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