A PhD is not something that can happen overnight. The process can take many years depending on whether you are studying part or full-time. Unlike a Masters or Degree, where you just apply to the university, preparing an application for a PhD means finding a supervisor before applying. This then means many months of work collating information into a research proposal and then sending it off and hoping the prospective supervisor likes your research as much as you do.
It has taken me over two years to get to the stage I’m at today, which doesn’t feel very far as I still haven’t started..
After a couple of false starts I attended a workshop at the Jane Austen House in March 2013 where I met Rebecca Smith. Rebecca had been the museum’s writer in residence from 2009-2010. She is also the author of three novels published by Bloomsbury and Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas. Plus Rebecca teaches creative writing at the University of Southampton. It was at this workshop that I wrote the beginnings of my autobiographical novel, which I called Homesick about a 16-year old girl who was leaving care and setting out into the world.
It was to be nearly another year before I contacted Southampton and Rebecca about the PhD. Almost immediately the response I received from Rebecca was hugely supportive. She grasped the importance of the project and supported my application and very kindly offered to be my supervisor.
A supervisor is not there to be your best friend, nor is she your editor or boss. Her role is mainly academic support and guidance; she is there to supervise you and your approach to your work.
I’ve not started the PhD yet but even if I don’t get funding this year, I will still continue to fund raise and hopefully next September will see me on a train to Southampton ready to enrol and begin the long journey through the corridors of self-doubt, anxiety and stress.