How long does a PhD take? (clue - too long)


I just printed the first draft of my PhD.  It is minus the conclusion and is rougher than badger’s bottom (British Adjective: Very rough, either literally, as in an unshaven gentleman’s chin or figuratively as in uncivilised or things or behaviour).

My supervisor suggested that before I embark on my final stage of re-writing, that I print all I have written off and look at it, walk around it, read it, lay it our and get the measure of it.  Rather than viewing on screen in svelte digital display, I need to get a sense of what I have created and now need to get into shape.

How do you measure the making of a Phd?  As I look at this pile of paper, I see and sense these almost palpable quantifications:

1. Tempus Fugit: Time does indeed flee. 6 years of reading, thinking and writing.  Nearly 5,000 hours has gone into this work so far.  As I look at it I feel the passing of time.  When I started it I am sure I was a youngish man, who is now well into mid life.  It has got to the stage that I cannot imagine ever coming to the end of it, and that I will shuffle of this mortal coil before finishing.

2.  Weight and Size:  99,028 words, on 373 pages.  That’s 1.86KG of printed A4 paper, that sits nearly 5cm high on my desk.  I’m sure I can hear it breathing slowly and with menace as it stares at me.

3.  Learning:  Hard to quantify but looking through it I realise what a long learning journey I have been on.  I’m not the same person I was when I started i.e I read my earlier work and now think ‘what idiot wrote that?’.

4.  Life:  The most sobering measure of all, is how buried within the writing and learning is the suicide of both my parents, the teaching I do for George Fox, the leading of my own Church, hundred of conversations about the ideas within it, the gaps in study from taking legal action against my local authority for my daughter’s special education needs.  Those things are buried away in the words, the gaps and jumps in the writing and in many ways much of the content.  The thesis itself is about life as an Evangelical Christian in Consumer Society.

Writing Up

I am allowed a final 2 years for writing up.  But my hope and prayer is that I can submit in 12 months time.  That however will take a lot of re-writing, and editing.  Time to stop procrastinating with blog posts and get on writing.