Thursday, 6 January 2011

Preparing for examination..

Well, things have been quiet the last few days because I'm preparing for a 100-day viva that takes place Monday week (17th January). I have to provide a report on how I have advanced, what I have learned since starting the PhD and also a presentation to discuss the issues put forth in the report. I am very nervous about this and hoping that everything goes ok. This viva is a good way of forcing myself to tie in everything I've read and thought over the past few months: I could be content going on and reading forever. I'm just finding it difficult to include everything new I've found out! Keep your fingers crossed for me:)

In terms of study, I am a very neat person. I can only start studying when my work space is completely clear and organised. It's an obsessive habit. This is what my desk looks like:

You might notice the Sylvia postcard I have on my wall. I got it in the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco when I travelled across the USA in the summer. The second portrait postcard is Marcel Proust, and was sent to me by my dear friend Morgane:) I definitely think a personalised workspace is integral for study! It's important to feel comfortable in your environment!

Tonight I hope to finish the final draft of my report and mail it to my supervisor for her opinions. Then I have over a week to correct anything she thinks needs to be corrected and work on the powerpoint presentation. I will be glad to get this over with! I've chosen a very 1950s-inspired outfit for the actual viva itself: try and channel a bit of Sylvia in the room with me!

I was reading some of the "Letters Home" last night and definitely found a lot of strength in a letter Sylvia wrote home on November 29, 1956 in relation to a friend of Aurelia's who had become deeply depressed. Sylvia replied offering advice, particularly about schoolwork: "When he dies, his marks will not be written on his gravestone. If he has loved a book, been kind to someone, enjoyed a certain colour in the sea - that is the thing that will show whether he has lived". I thought that this was such a lovely statement to come out with and it really helps put things into perspective when under academic pressure.

For posterity, the albums I'm listening to at the moment are Bright Eyes - "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" (2005) and Sea of Bees "Songs for the Ravens" (2010). These are both great albums, perfect for cold and dismal January. Also, it's snowing again in Ireland. How horrible! I am sick of the snow!


Peter K Steinberg said...

Good luck! May the Plath be with you!


Anonymous said...

I have the same picture of Sylvia on my bedroom wall. My wife is drawing me a color version of it as I type.

Amber Blue Bird said...

best of luck with your studies

Anonymous said...

I am afraid to say that on seeing your photo', my first thought was 'I wonder what albums she is listening to' so thank you for clarifying!

Also, thank you for sharing that quotation. It is a lovely one.

And good luck for your presentation. I'm sure you don't need it, but if the pres. is as good as your desk is neat, you'll pass with flying colours!


Anonymous said...

Loving the organised workspace! :)

Rehan Qayoom said...

I have the same Plath postcard on my wall, along with 2 of Keats, 2 of Auden, several others and a poster which has hung there for years and I haven't really thought about until a friend recently interrogated me about it. I took everything off, all I have now is a red postcard with 'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever' written on't.

LifetimeReader said...

What a lovely space. Good luck with the viva! I've not heard of that system before, but I can imagine how well it would work at the start of a dissertation.

The Plath Diaries said...

Thank you for the well-wishes, everyone!

I'm glad to see there are others there who choose to adorn their walls with photographs of writers as opposed to boybands and film stars!;)

@Malcolm - I'm as much as music fanatic as I am a Plath one to be honest! Some day when I get the time I want to upload a 'study mix' to this site!

Anonymous said...


I look forward to that! A study mix reminds me of when I studied for my undergrad finals. I would revise through the day to a background of music.

The only problem was at the start of the day when, after picking a few albums to listen to, I looked at the little mountain of cassettes (this was the mid 90s. I updated slowly!) and thought to myself "I can't finish my revision until I have listened to all of them."

So, I changed tack, slightly, and listened to one Wagner opera a day. True, it was several cassettes, but I knew from the off that technically I was only one album away from the end of the revision! Silly, but it worked-!


tortietabby said...

hey maeve, i'm catching up on your blog (which i can finally comment on now i have my new laptop) - love your room and your workspace, so lovely!

The Plath Diaries said...

Thanks so much for your comments, everyone - greatly appreciated!! Glad to see I'm not the only one with literary greats on my wall!:)