Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo: PhD edition

It's National Novel Writing Month again, folks, and this year, I've decided to observe the tradition by doing two things: first, I'm marking the start of NaNoWriMo by surprising you with a blog post (suprise!! are you surprised?! I think you are). And second, by trying to write 50,000 words of my PhD dissertation Draft 0 this month. 

Why would I try to wring 50,000 words out of 30 days, you ask? well. Mostly because my 'to do' list looks too much like this PhD comic, and also because my contract deadline is in 5 months, so it seems like a good idea to get a first draft out ASAP so I can get on to the real work of rereading, rethinking, rewriting, and possibly re-tramping around Zambia if I decide it would help.

Last week one of our colleagues finished his dissertation defense. We had champagne and snacks for him (finishing a phd is fun!) and I found out that you're not allowed to use the letters after your name until you publish the darn thing. WHAT?! nobody told me that part. (The champagne is clearly intended to distract from this unpleasantness). This new info probably explains why Pierrick and I had an offer from a publisher in the first 6 months of our contract. They weren't excited about our work, turns out...

In other sort of phd-y news, research trips to Burkina Faso and Tansania may be in my future. :) More on that when and if it materializes, but both are looking promising. 

A few weekends ago, we had an "Africanists in Motion" PhD hiking retreat to Franches-Montagnes in Canton Jura. Pierrick planned the hike--or the "workshop" as he called it, which "aim[ed] to (re)consider the notion of wood pasture by addressing methodological (and ethical) challenges related to its fragile balance: should we cut or plant more trees? Should we hire more cows for sustaining the pastures? Aren’t horses more appropriated? Any theoretical or empirical contributions to these crucial issues are welcome." :) 

If that doesn't strike you as funny, you don't read enough social science conference calls for papers.

Some pictures from the day (I discovered my camera does things I didn't know it could do):


  1. Well, let's see--25 days, say, giving some weekends free...that will be 2,000 words per day. No sweat, so long as you know what you want to say. You are pretty articulate, and a fast typist (see how my archaisms creep in?) so that would be a pretty short evening of writing, every night. As I say, if you know what you want to say, you can definitely do this. I'm betting on you!
    "Allez la fille!"

  2. Etang de la Gruère - my, that brings back memories of summer vacations...