Monthly Archives: December 2015

PhD – An Impossible Task?

In Albert Camus book “The Plague” there is a character called Joseph Grand.  Joseph Grand is writing a novel, he has been writing it for years but has never got past the first sentence.  He constantly writes and re-writes the first sentence, never finding the right words, revising each word.  He knows if he gets it right the resulting work will be a masterpiece, but he is word anxious and nothing flows.

I always considered Joseph Grand a figure of fun, someone to laugh at, a bit of comedic relief in a tale of death and disease.  However, it has been dawning on me in the last few months that Joseph Grand is a much more sympathetic character than I imagined.  I am caught in a trap of re-writing and revising.  I feel my project has lost direction and I don’t seem to be able to get it back on track.  The thought of the amount of work I have to do terrifies me, I can’t think and every time my thoughts do drift towards the PhD I panic, I mean proper panic, where I feel I can’t breathe.  My family and friends have (thankfully) stopped asking me how it is going because I can no longer talk about it.  I feel totally rudderless.

Recently I have been thinking about whether or not I should even continue.  Would it be better to give it up and move on to something else?  Should I just chalk this up to one of those things that did not work out, like a failed love affair or a novel that is just not worth reading?

I love being at the University, I love the students, the projects, the teaching.  These are the things that are driving me on, giving me a reason to get up and come in.  The PhD just seems like a mountain I cannot climb.

It was never going to be easy.