The Joy Of Writing A Thesis

This blog has been a little quiet of late.

It would be easy to surmise that the cause of this unfortunate lapse is the creeping doom of obliged regular postings grasping my enthusiasm in its icy claws, progressively squeezing the life out of it. Actually, that’s not easy to say, and while it might be a marvellous metaphor, nothing could be further from the truth.

I have spent the better part of the last few weeks (when not actually working at my real job) labouring through the revision and redevelopment of the first chapters of my thesis. As I have noted before, this requires an extensive review of the literature to both understand and to appropriately reflect what has gone before, and to ensure that whatever I do is able to make an appropriate contribution. This is neither easy nor simple. Apart from requiring a lot of effort and attention, it also lures my mind down innumerable rabbit holes of opportunity as I work towards an appropriate and manageable structure.

It would be easy to look on this process as work. It would also be incredibly dangerous to do so; all too quickly, my enthusiasm would be overtaken, subsumed by a drudgery of effort and obligation. This is exactly the experience that I do not want in writing my thesis. While there may have been some risk of this a year or two ago, when trying to also lead a company and manage multiple consulting engagements, I am pleased to say that this has not been the case to date. I am having fun, I am enjoying what I am doing and I am excited about the direction my thesis is taking.

One thing that has been tremendously rewarding in this process is discovering the variety of perspectives, and the quality of work, that researchers before me have pursued. Without question there is a lot of poor research, and poor writing. There are also innumerable articles that have little to do with my thesis, although I am still obliged to review them before I can make that judgement. At the same time, there are wonderful perspectives and fabulous insights that, as I find them, take my breath away.

I have now — on several occasions — looked up from an article in absolute joy, not just because of the quality of the insight, but due to the sheer playfulness by which its author has approached their work. I have been blessed to read articles of wit, of verve and of humour; not only do they make a point, but they do so in a way that celebrates the ability to communicate well and to find enjoyment in doing so. In a world that tries to be serious, rational, objective and deliberate, finding out that contrary perspectives not only exist — but thrive — has been a delight, and one well worth the price of admission.

I can only hope that my future contributions might one day be looked on in the same way.

Leave a Comment