Getting Ahead of Myself: Blogging & the PhD

Sometimes, when I cannot quite keep track of everything I still need to do to finish my PhD. Or worse: everything I might have done, or: the things I definitely should have done but cannot possibly do anymore… At these moments, lost in the mealstrom of worries and stress, I find that thinking about what I want to put in the foreword of my book calms me down.

The foreword is the part that most people will end up reading, anyway – let’s not kid ourselves. It is also the section I turn to immediately when a colleague finishes. Perhaps because the foreword is a reminder that beyond the exterior of the academic, and the elaborate results encapsulated in the thesis, there is a person with a network and relationships and that what really portrays strength is the appreciation of other people in one’s life in the midst of a commitment to the very solitary endeavour that is a thesis. It is wonderful to get a glimpse of someone’s intellectual biography (or the beginning of it), the serendipities and the efforts, the important encouragements and support systems, the people, the loves, the families, the friends.

Strangely (or perhaps not so much), with the advent of my work on my PhD project, I began to neglect the blog. Even more so when Pim and then Emmi arrived on the scene. And however much I might wish that it had been different; this is also one of the things that I cannot change now.

That being said, I cannot deny the importance of this blog in my own intellectual biography – and particularly in the whole PhD process, even if I have not been that present here for the past few years. Despite my silence and absence, I think I have come to understand the blog’s significance more and more during the past few months.

These are the things I contemplate when I draft a foreword in my mind. Why? Because, besides close friends and family and a number of colleagues: I think it is my blogging network that deserves pride of place in my foreword.

Truth is, I would never be the kind of researcher I am today without all of you. I would not be as critical a thinker. I would not be a feminist-in-progress, or not anywhere near where I am in that process now. I would forever be further behind on all the topics that you are so wise and adamant about.

The more I learn (and this is a never-ending process, right?) the more I see that the seeds for many of the things I signal now, were planted by things you mentioned years ago and that I did not realise were so integral back then. Please bear with me as I slowly work through topics you have worked through some time before, as I realise the wisdom of what you said back then, often only fully in retrospect. I continually wish I were as erudite and learned and thoughtful as you.

And in the midst of this ongoing process, you have been so kind and patient. The loneliness that is seemingly integral to pursuing a PhD has been much less salient because of you.

So, while it might be a long while yet before I get to write my actual foreword, I wanted to say this, perhaps a little bit ahead of time: Thank you ever so much for the conversations, the reading, the writing, and all the support.