Friday, May 31, 2013

PhD A-Doin' ...

Hi All,

For those few people who read this blog to keep up with the profound (and when I say "profound," I mean, of course, "unremarkable") minutiae of my life, then this will fit perfectly into said minutie:

I've decided to do a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. This is pending full administrative acceptance, but I have it on faith from the director of the program that it's more-or-less finalized.

I thought about whether I wanted to do one of these for awhile. I have an MA, an MFA, but the PhD wasn't something I was sure that I'd ever want to pursue. It's a much longer degree to attain, generally, and it's expensive without funding, and I really didn't have 4 years free-and-clear to pursue one.

Then I was talking to two friends who are professors of English and they "hipped" me (because I'm 70 years old and talk like that) to this distance ed PhD in the UK. You go there 2 weeks a year, check in with your instructor, hash over your thesis and so on, then you head back home and get on with your life. The PhD CW thesis involves writing a novel—which I was going to be doing anyway—and a critical paper to go along with it. Plus it's 3 years rather than 4 or more.

So overall, it seems like something I can do while still doing whatever else comes down the pike in my life. I'll be off work next year, taking care of the boy while my partner pursues her MSW, so I'll be able to make a good start on the novel (working nights). I feel it's possible, at this point in my life, to just get a PhD in the midst of all the other things in my life; I'm pretty disciplined, manage my time well, and the bulk of the workload in this case (a novel) is something I'd already be working on.

It's sort of like a plumber earning a PhD in, uh, Plumb-ology when the requirements happen to be:

1. Plumb daily.
2. Write a report on said plumbing.

The truth is, I've applied for the odd Creative Writing professorship and I haven't even gotten a SNIFF. Not an interview, not even a personal rejection saying: "You suck, but still, we received your application and didn't like it." I get sort of ticked at that. It's a bad part of my personality, really. I don't stew over it (much), but a little. So I figure if I get a PhD and still don't get a sniff, I've got to ask myself what's the matter with me. The fact is, there are likely many things the matter with me (my penchant for thrill-killing drifters and offputting, onion-soup aroma, to name a few) but still, I enjoy a new challenge and this should count as one.

So, for you handful of minutiae-collectors (I know there aren't any, not really, but I like to flatter myself from time to time) there's a tidbit for you.

All best, Craig.

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