Finishing bits of writing is hard, but possible (thanks to great support networks)

Yesterday was a strange day. This whole week was a little bit weird. I didn’t actually do very much, but felt very accomplished. It was a weird situation where I had been working towards a couple of things that I finally felt the courage to finish off. I have a problem with finishing things off, in that I don’t like doing it, and avoid it whenever possible. That’s why I have so many unfinished pieces of knitting on spare needles and pieces of yarn, it’s why I have so many paper outlines and so few finished articles. It’s why I have four potential outlines for different chapters of my PhD, and it’s why I have so many stacks of papers and notes on my desk.

So, I’ve been working on editing a journal article post-reviews, have been sitting on an abstract for a book chapter, I’ve re-written my rejected CHI paper, and have been meaning to write an abstract for the HaSS PGR showcase. I’m sitting on a couple of paper ideas with half-formed argumentations and outlines, and am constantly trying to figure out how all my work fits together to form a coherent PhD dissertation argument.

On Tuesday I met with my supervisor to have a chat about the journal paper followed by an update of what I’ve been working on, thinking about, and writing.

On Wednesday it was international women’s day, and while I’m usually not one to over-celebrate holidays, this year was a little bit different. With everything that’s happened this year, and my growing involvement in activist groups such as yarnbombing for solidarity, fempower.tech, and most recently the North East Women’s huddle it felt a lot more powerful to me. Usually, I quite liked international women’s day because it meant that even those that were generally not so great towards women at least made a tokenistic approach to be nice to the women in their lives. This year however it felt powerful. I have built a network of powerful, supportive, and brilliant women around me – and we all sent each other supportive messages on various social media channels (but let’s be honest, it was mostly through snapchat…).

I’ve been working on trying to finish things, have been working towards finishing off various bits and bobs of writing and editing, and had a major power- and solidarity-boost on Wednesday, so I guess it only makes sense that Thursday would be the day I finish stuff. Upon reflection, it makes sense, really. Right?

This is where I come back to what I wrote in the beginning, that I really hadn’t done too much, but felt accomplished. I’ve been working on all these different bits of writing and editing for months and weeks, but it was yesterday that it all came together. I submitted the edited version of the journal paper, sent in my book chapter abstract, wrote an initial draft of the abstract for the HaSS PGR showcase, and the most recent PhD outline makes sense in my head again. It really was a culmination of a lot of hard work, but I think most importantly it was a coming together of my unintentional support network of amazing people, and a few continuous days of fabulous support from a number of different social and academic levels.

Thank you. Thank you to all the amazing women whose shoulders I can stand on, and thank you to my supervisor for reading and commenting on all the different drafts of papers I send your way. Thank you to everyone who marched and protested and made pussyhats for international women’s day. I really think it is about confidence, and I continue to build mine. Not a day goes by that I feel like I’m faking it, that I really shouldn’t be here, and that I somehow managed to weasel my way into doing a PhD, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I work too much, and have too many #phdweekends. But I’m sick of romanticising the overworked PhD student. I take time off. I’m sick of romanticising this idea that I should be quiet about my accomplishments. I write about them and text my friends.

This week I accomplished two amazing things. I fully understand that the book abstract will most probably be rejected (it’s a bit left-field, and also, I have no idea what I’m doing), but have decent hopes for the post-review (major revisions) journal paper.  So let’s just say I’ve had a good week, and wanted to make sure to capture this so I have somewhere to look back on next week. Of course I’ll have good and bad weeks, but I’m going to try to learn from this week. To celebrate the small successes and to be vocal about them. To continue to have supportive, celebratory, and emoji-laden conversations with other women that go something like this:

There are very few things that are more powerful than women supporting women