A whole lot of Greek and my big goal for 2018

I took this years ago at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – it’s fishy like my dissertation

Something I haven’t blogged about much recently is my progress towards completing my PhD, also known as my never ending project. Even in person, I avoid talking about it because I’m sick of the whole affair.

To start, an update. Weirdly, about two months before the end of my funding, I got the job I started my PhD to get (yay!). Since then the dissertation has progressed at a snails pace. Plus, I have a superpower for proving things don’t work, which is valuable knowledge, at least that’s what I keep telling myself–want to know 50 ways to not get the right answer, I have a list! Exercising my superpower is time consuming and often frustrating.

To make matters worse, dissertation writing is hard because I keep holding on to a general feeling that I don’t know anything—even when presented with evidence that I know plenty. Never-the-less, I’m still plugging away.

This leads me to my biggest goal for 2018 – get my damn dissertation done

Overall, I find academic writing painful to read. It amazes me that fascinating stuff can be made to sound so dull and tedious. But, it is the expected style, so even my own academic writing has fallen down the boring rabbit hole of passive voice. Early on, I tried to be more interesting with my writing and was edited back to dullness which inspired me to start this blog—a place I could write about what ever I wanted in my own voice.

Today, I’m taking an academic paper I wrote in Word (and has since been published) and converting it to LaTex – a fiddly, but necessary task I’ve been putting off. LaTex is a software package commonly used for academic scientific writing, especially when there is a lot of math (my work has a lot of math, but is not the mathiest work out there). Using it isn’t as straight-forward as a normal word processor—it leans more towards programming. Once I get over the initial hurdles of figuring it out (because I use it infrequently) it frustrates me less than Word and its clones—especially for symbols, formula and figures. And (this is the best part), it will automatically create a bibliography for me.

In the end, this paper will form at least two chapters for my dissertation, and I have at least one more chapter already written and in LaTex. It all counts as progress.

My next post will be about my fiction goals for 2018, which is much more fun to write and hopefully read.