Carving up the beast

Today I’ve been reading and discussing the virtues of turning my PhD into a book. This is something that’s been burbling away in the back of my brain for some time and as the time since I completed the thesis is growing by the day I really need to get started on what to do next. While working on my PhD my supervisor would say ‘Leave that bit for your book, it doesn’t go in the thesis’.  At the time I thought she was mad as I could barely see past the end of my page let alone consider that I may turn my PhD into a book at some point in the future. Now that the dust has settled though, I’m realising how important it is to do something with this creature that I’ve both loved and loathed for 2.5 years of my life.

I’ve read and talked a lot with colleagues about the merits of carving my thesis up into journal articles and when I finished I began by sketching out a publication plan and thinking of which journals would be best for each aspect of the thesis. I didn’t get far as I took on my first full-time job in academia, got caught up in a couple of new projects working on journal articles for them and writing a chapter for an edited book. Meanwhile, my PhD was sitting on the shelf, the red cover seeming to pulsate with life and with a reminder of the need to turn back to it and not let it languish there alone and unloved forever.  I went back to the publication plan and looked at it, carving up something I loved seemed so mercenary – I felt like an academic butcher looking for ways I could take in the whole beast and then pare away the ripest cuts for publication. I put it aside again and kept working on other things – academic life means at least there is always something else to distract yourself with.

Yet, still my thesis calls to me and the idea of a book has been nagging at me for some time now. So today, armed with a new focus and after a conversation with a colleague who turned her thesis into a book, I’ve hatched out a plan on how to proceed. I’m starting with the dreaded book proposal, seeing for myself how I might structure my beast into something that still resembles the whole, but in ways that make it easier for consumption. I’m not convinced I’ll get there, but I figure this is an important step in my journey. Wish me luck.


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