A Postgraduate Blog: the end of the life cycle

A Wordle of my Thesis Draft
A Wordle of my Thesis Draft

Hello All,

Sometimes we blog, and sometimes we are silent. Recently, I have been thinking about the periods in my postgraduate life when I have used this blog the most, and the times that I have used it the least. I started Fluid Imaginings on the tenth of September, 2009. At the time I was full of new ideas from the first few months of my thesis research, and was longing for somewhere to share them. The blog served admirably in this respect, and I have often gone back to my old posts to remember ideas partially forgotten, to recapture old insights.

Wherever I went, the blog followed, ready to help me express my latest thoughts, both to myself and to others. It found new life in 2011 when I was on exchange at the university of York, helping me to articulate a new phase of more complex ideas that I was struggling with. This fed into new drafts of my thesis, and helped my creative process immensely. By 2012, I was blogging about conferences, fresh insights, and thoughts about postgraduate life, the matters that concerned me at the time.

Recent months of 2013 have been an Autumn and, in the most recent months, a winter of blogging for me. I have felt that my creative energies were tied up in other endeavors, and have felt little desire to write in this format. I find myself at the ultimate stage of my candidature, preparing to submit my doctoral thesis at the end of November. The Wordle above captures the thousands of words that have poured forth from mind and through keyboard, caught and quantified in a single image. These words are not for blogging, but they represent another mode of self-expression. I am caught up in the process of writing and of contemplating my future, and have felt little need or desire to share these thoughts here.

At this stage, I begin to feel the stirring of new life for Fluid Imaginings. With spring comes new shoots. As my thoughts move through this bottleneck and into a new era of post-PhD life, I sense that a new love for blogging is growing within me. After my thesis is submitted, I can imagine overhauling this page, converting it into a space for my ideas and interests far beyond the narrower scope of recent years. I have noticed that the months following the completion of a PhD are often a time for those who have not previously maintained a blog to begin expressing themselves online. I think that this is an excellent time to begin and love reading the many excellent posts of friends and colleagues at this stage of their career and life, but am equally grateful that I have had a rich and exciting time blogging as a postgraduate student.

This post is something of a eulogy for Fluid Imaginings the postgraduate blog, but also an indication of my growing sense of enthusiasm for another Fluid Imaginings, the future blog as-yet unblogged. If I have any advice to give in this post, it is this: do not see your blog as a demand on your creative energies that must constantly be used, but as part of the waxing and waning of emotions and creative impulses that go hand in hand with the life of a scholar and a writer. All blogs I follow have waxed and waned, and many have ended. Many more have sprung up to replace them, and many more will follow. A blog is more than a medium, it is a repository of a writer, a vault of hopes, dreams, inspirations, and anxieties.

In the future, this blog will endure in a new form. For now, it is quiescent. My love of blogging remains throughout these cycles, and will continue with me beyond my life as a PhD student. The subtitle of my blog reads ‘Reflections on and of Academic Life by James Smith’, and this quality will remain. What this sentence means in the future is as yet unclear.

Until then, be well.

James

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