Back in August 2015, I embarked on a challenging and exciting journey: undertaking a PhD. My PhD is in the area of Creative Practice–that is, it contained both a creative part(in my case, a young adult novel) and an academic/analytical part(an exegesis). For those who are interested, the novel is called The Ghost Squad, and it’s a genre-crossing mix of thriller, detective fiction, ghost story, fantasy and philosophical exploration, while the exegesis is an examination of the very interesting sub-genre of young adult afterlife fiction(that is, fiction set in or about the afterlife–not religious narratives, but a sub-genre of speculative fiction).
Three years of stimulating, hard-working, satisfying years of research, study and writing later, and I have come to that milestone day: the day I officially submit my thesis(which comprises the novel and the exegesis). It feels amazing. It feels odd. I am relieved I made it; yet also feel a little sad that it’s over. Even though of course there were one or two hiccups along the way, by and large it has been an absolutely charmed experience. I am immensely grateful to have had such fantastic support, guidance, encouragement, attention to detail and collegial warmth from my supervisors and others at the university generally; immensely grateful to the journal editors and conference organisers who saw value in the work I was doing; immensely grateful for the loving support and interest of my family, especially my husband David. And immensely grateful to have had that wonderful amount of time not only to really concentrate on my novel, a challenging novel I had wanted to write for a long time yet never had the sustained opportunity to do so, but also to discover a whole new area(at least new to me!) of young adult fiction which I have found so satisfying to explore. And the fact that no-one else had ever written about this area in a sustained and substantive way was another bonus, in that I could break new ground.
It isn’t quite over yet, of course; the examiners still have to assess the thesis and give their verdict, which won’t happen for at least several more weeks yet. But three years down the track, at that important milestone, I can say that not only do I have no regrets of any kind, but I am amazed and delighted by my great good fortune in what has been an important and deeply satisfying journey.